Photo Credit: Courtesy of Samia Jay
The Black Expat Portugal: 'Black Travelers Can Feel At Home Here'
Meet Samia Jay. The 38-year-old Tunisian-Italian woman has lived in Italy, Croatia, and Malta, but now calls Portugal home.
The mother of a 14-year-old boy, social media coach, and owner of the Blonskin skin care line— Samia began traveling at the age of two with her parents.
“My parents have always been very passionate about travel, and when I grew up it became my passion, too,” she told Travel Noire. “For five years I worked in an oilfield company as a business development manager and that allowed me to travel to many places for work. Then one day I decided to make travel my business and lifestyle, and I’m glad I did.”
Samia has traveled to Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, U.A.E., Qatar, France, Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain, U.K., U.S., Switzerland, Algeria, Greece, Malta, Turkey, Germany, and Croatia.
She says that as a solo female traveler, Spain and Portugal offer the best experiences.
“I’ve always felt very safe there, and would 100% say I’ve never felt safer than I feel in Portugal.”
Samia took a leap of faith when she moved to Portugal three years ago.
“I’m an e-commerce entrepreneur, so basically I created a system for myself to work from any place in the world with just a laptop and Wi-Fi.”
“Before coming to Portugal, I moved from Italy to Malta and stayed there for two years. It was very difficult for me though, firstly, because the islands are beautiful in the summer, but in wintertime, it’s a whole different story. Secondly, logistically Malta was too small, and I couldn’t grow my business there.”
“One day a friend of mine called me out of the blue and told me that I should move to Portugal. She had been there for a week and completely fell in love. After that call I started researching Portugal, and six months later, I put my son and my belongings in the car, moved to Portugal, and never looked back.”
Samia says her experience living in Portugal has been amazing.
“Portugal offers a great quality of life, good food, and great weather year round. The Portuguese are very welcoming and helpful.”
“I think Portugal is one of the best European countries for Black expats because it welcomes diversity. There is a large community of Brazilians and Angolans, and the level of integration is simply outstanding. Black travelers can feel at home here.”
On the contrast, Samia says Italy is not welcoming to Black women.
“This is actually the first time I’m opening up about it publicly, but I would say Italy is not a place to live in as a Black woman. I suffered racism there for 14-years.”
“In Portugal, nobody is staring at you while you are eating in an expensive restaurant. Nobody is staring at you while you’re wearing nice clothes. Nobody tells you to go back to your country. Nobody asks you silly questions like ‘Do you have bread in Africa?’ I still go to Italy for vacation because it is a completely different story. But I don’t think I would go back to live there again.”
Samia says traveling benefits her in countless ways. “Traveling has humbled me a lot. It’s also helped me to become more spiritual and confident. I don’t have problems sitting with complete strangers and exchanging deep conversations. I no longer have problems eating a local dish that may be strange-looking. I have no fear of taking crazy adventures.”
“Traveling has become my lifestyle, and thank God for the Black travel community, who has made it even more beautiful for me. Now I have amazing friends around the world who share the same passion.”
Samia is patiently awaiting the day she can return to Cappadocia, as well as other destinations like Cuba and Santorini, Greece.
“I’m just waiting for the borders to reopen. Hopefully it will be soon. In the meantime, I’m preparing to launch a new project next month, the Boss Lady Society. I’m all about women’s empowerment and supporting queens to be bold and reach financial freedom.”
“My biggest dream is to help as many women as I can find their powerful voice and enjoy their femininity without fear. I want to build an army of Boss Ladies who look like women and hustle like men. I’m all about getting that bag, because money is power, money is discipline, money is energy, and being wealthy is our birthright. So please, ladies, go out there and rise and shine. You are art.”