Life on Pause: A Fantastic but Irrelevant Semester Past Review

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 02/01/2017 to 05/31/2017 with

Study in Portugal Network: Semester/Academic Year Options

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about Portugal, gained a lot of language skills by seeking out Portuguese communities (I joined a local rugby team), and became very comfortable living in a foreign city. It was worthwhile, but I wish the academic situation had been better.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took classes intended for Portuguese students, not the students in my program. Thus, I speak for that and not for the program's selection. The classes were very time intensive (4hrs/week per class), with little homework until the end, when final papers and difficult finals are due. The classes were for the most part not hard, but also not laughably easy.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our program directors took us on quite a few trips and always tried to make themselves available to us, but it was highly disorganized. I think it would have gone a lot better if they had more staff members, better logistical skills, and less of the 9-5 mentality.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Good location, very secure.

* Food:

Not applicable, I cooked for myself.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

We did not live with Portuguese people, and our program's halfhearted attempts to get us Portuguese buddies did not work out. I met some Portuguese people through University classes, but not much at all. I did enjoy my Portuguese Visiting Family, who I saw three times.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

They responded to my messages, made me an appointment, offered to accompany me (I did not accept) and reimbursed me relatively promptly. The local hospital was fine, and there are not prevalent diseases in Lisbon.

* Safety:

Lisbon is quite safe, except for you don't really want to walk alone at night as a lone female. I would get nervous after 10pm by myself, but felt perfectly safe whenever I was in a group. Pickpocketing is common in Lisbon, although it didn't happen to me. Some people in my dorm were mugged, but it also did not happen to me. Just travel in groups at night and don't go places that make you uneasy.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Yes because there are extremely few options for Lisbon, and among them, this one is probably the best. The classes were not good at all, but Lisbon is one of the most amazing places I have ever lived and I would love to return. This semester was about living and experiencing, not about learning.


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $75? I didn't do a great job of tracking it.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

We all took Portuguese language classes, although most of us were never in a situation where we were required to use it. Lisbon speaks English quite well, so it's very easy to not have to speak Portuguese. Our program is oriented mostly toward complete language beginners, so they don't press you at all.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? PORT 250, an independent study on Portuguese literature taught in Portuguese.
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Watch media in Portuguese and read a translation of your favorite book in Portuguese. Practice phrases to yourself so that you're confident using them in everyday life.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Lots of trips around the country
  • Good housing
* What could be improved?
  • Administration
  • Course selection
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish my program had had a clearer understanding with my college.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.