|Name: Maria Lousã Barral
Year of Birth: 1973
Place of birth: Mozambique
City of residence: Boston, MA, USA
Years in the US: 3.5
Undergraduate Degree: Architecture
Current professional status: Architect
Professional Field/Research interests: Housing
To be or not to be an immigrant in the US
What brought you to the USA?
The main reason was my husbands research. However, I created my own objectives to feel purposefulness in my professional life as well. Before coming here, we were working in London where I was developing work related with housing, supported housing, assisted living, etc. This is a field I love but, if I had stayed, I would have specialized in it. I wanted to learn more about other uses in architecture before I became too committed to one. I found a place in Miller Dyer Spears here I work in office spaces, interior design, healthcare, laboratory design, imaging and animal holding spaces. It was fun to see my work crossing my husbands!
Name the three most valuable lessons you have learned in this country (at work or not).
- I love the respect people have for other professionals. All people are treated equally, whether you are the architect, the plumber, the drafting technician
and all are invited to talk, bring ideas, improve the design process - everybody wins!
- The sense of opportunity. Life is full of opportunities and in here that is more obvious that in any other places I worked. Changes are good and it is up to us to change life and grab the opportunities we want.
- The value of time. I learned that time is appreciated differently depending on the culture. For instance, when people here have 2 weeks of vacation per year and do not take all the time off because of work, made me more appreciative of the vacation time I used to have. Now, all the free time, as well as all the work time, I have is deeply used!
Are you planning to go back to Portugal? Why/Why not?
Eventually yes. I miss my family and I believe there is more to life than work! My 4 month old son deserves to be close to his grandparents and uncles.
What conditions (other than salary) do you have here that you do not have in Portugal?
In terms of physical conditions, I have pretty much here what I had there; maybe here I have a better computer, more access to sponsored continuous professional development, more junior hands helping in work I can delegate. However, where I really feel the difference is in the respect and value for the work I do.
What do you think Portugal is still better at?
I believe Portugal is good in many things (many more than I thought when I was living there). Professionally, I believe there is still an honest pursuit for originality and truth in each project.
What would you like to see changed in the Portuguese educational system?
I know this is naïf but the only thing I would change is to make college students benefit from an exchange student program and live abroad for at least 6 months. The experiences would certainly broad their horizons, and also make the good and bad things about our country (and educational system) stand out.
The daily life in the US
|Favourite news from Portugal:
||We receive Visão but I still love the word of mouth from talking with family abroad and Portuguese friends here.
|Ideal weekend program in your US city:
||Enjoy a family sunny day by the coast, explore a good museum, have a nice dinner with friends.
Cambridge (MA), just across the river, is where I buy chouriço and bacalhau. It is also where my son André goes to family daycare. I am hoping he will learn how to say palminhas and beijinhos!