Super modern, fascinating, bathing in Atlantic light, that is Lisbon. But also: old fashioned shops, retro bars and monuments from the days of the great discoveries. More to the North, you will find the five century old university of Coimbra and Porto with its houses from the Middle Ages. Portugal, the West end of Europe is as sunny as Spain, the food’s as tasty as in Italy and the wine’s as great as in France. The beers are as good as the Germans’ and in the middle of all this, it’s cheaper than Greece. Portugal doesn’t have to be compared to other countries – but when you do, it shines.
The Portuguese have a well-deserved reputation for being hospitable. You’ll be warmly received by the locals, and after a first meeting, it’s all hugs, kisses, food and beer. Without discriminating tourists from workers, Erasmus students or postgraduate researchers, this country looks at each visitor as a welcome guest. And all over the country you’ll find universities with excellent track records and reputations.
Besides this, Portugal is by far the cheapest country in Western Europe, and Lisbon is one of the cheapest big cities of Europe. This means that if you’re on a tight budget you’re going to get by just fine here and if you’re not, you get to live really comfortably.
Even though Portugal is one of those rare countries in Europe where people actually make an effort to understand you in the street, whether you speak to them in English, Spanish or even Russian, if you study in Portugal you’ll learn your way around some basic Portuguese. If you do learn Portuguese, you’ll be speaking the world’s sixth most spoken language: this is a great CV-booster once you graduate and can help you build links with people in four different continents (South America, Europe, Africa and Asia).
The beach is always nearby, for example – in Porto or Lisbon, you’re rarely more than 20/30 minutes away from the beach. If you get a free day from school, you can visit any city in the country for a daytrip and be back in time for school next day. Or you can get to know the country a lot better in a weekend.
The Portuguese have a passion for the ocean that crashes upon the country’s shore. This ocean allows you to learn or practise all kinds of water sports: there are incredible scuba-diving spots, world-class waves to surf or body-board, and a long history of yachting. And if you’re not into any water sports, it’s pretty to look at and fun to swim in anyway.
Study in Portugal, and you will never, ever go hungry… unless you’re a vegan. Most of the dishes are based on meat, fish or eggs. But, if you’re not vegan, the food here is really, really good. The meals are hot and heavy, but ‘sharing dinners’ and ‘Portuguese tapas’ are now very fashionable, so you don’t really have to leave the restaurant feeling like you’ve just been stuffed full by your grandma. Traditional Portuguese desserts are sweet, based around different combinations of egg, sugar and cinnamon, more often than not.
Great things of Portugal: Fado, soccer, pastéis de nata (salted cod) Algarve, cork, port.
Greeting: Bom dia (Good day)