Do you fancy going to university abroad? Do you want to go somewhere different? What about the small, but proud, country of Portugal? Located in the Westernmost part of mainland Europe, Portugal is abundant with great universities, a rich cultural history and, of course, a gorgeous Mediterranean climate.
Portugal has some of oldest universities in the world with the University of Coimbra, boasting 700 years of research and teaching experience. It also has 24,000 students across eight different faculties. Furthermore, in 2018, the Times rated 9 of Portugal’s universities as being some of the best 600 in the world.
Porto, in the Northern Portugal, boasts a university with over 31,000 students and the well-recognised research centre of the Institute of molecular and cell Biology.
And the 2017 QS World University Subject Rankings rated the University of Lisbon within the global top 100 for several subjects such as geography, engineering and art and design.
The Student Lifestyle
And would this really be a student-targeted circle if I didn’t mention Portugal’s great nightlife? There are clubs and bars galore with your EDM and every other music genre under the sun.
And don’t worry of clubbing isn’t your thing. Get a coffee in the amazing café/creative space/book shop/eclectic, but fantastic mash-up of books, coffees and weird mechanical objects that is the LX Factory. Or why not stroll along one of Portugal’s award-winning beaches in the Algarve or Aveiro.
Go hiking across the stunning natural landscape of the Azores or why not visit one of Portugals’ fifteen World Unesco heritage sites.
Be prepared to loosen your belt as you enjoy the delicious Portuguese food and wine. Bacalhau (cod fish) is a delicacy as is Bitoque (chips, fried egg and a lean-fried steak) Although word to the wise, as you may have guessed from these meat-heavy dishes, Portugal may not be the best place to go if you’re a vegan.
Wow, so we’ve covered a lot there. Fantastic universities, a Mediterranean climate, a diverse history and a brilliant student lifestyle.
Portugal is by far the cheapest country to live 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 comfortable
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 discrimination tourists from workers, Erasmus students or postgraduate researchers, this country looks at each visitor as a welcome guest.
Do you have that one short friend who’s always telling you how great it is to be short? Well Portugal’s that smaller friend of yours, and it keeps showing you why being a small country has its advantages. The beach is always nearby, for example – 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 the school next day. Or you can get to know the country a lot better in a weekend.
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 rain in Spain might stay mainly in the plain, but Portugal much prefers its sunshine. Most years we receive only around 90 rainy days across the country – and regions in the south of Portuga, like Alentejo and the Algarve, boast more than 300 sunny days every year.
The Portuguese have a passion for the ocean that crashes upon the country’s shore. This ocean allows you to learn or practice all kinds of watersports: we’ve got 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 watersports, it’s pretty to look at and fun to swim in anyway.
What is your definition of fun? Drinks at trendy bars, a wild street party, clubbing the night away? Or are you into the quieter pleasures like a great meal with good company and conversation and an afternoon in the beach? Are you into mountain biking, skateboarding, paintballing? The Portuguese love to have fun, in every way, every day. Whatever’s your pleasure, you’ll find it here.
Study in Portugal, and you will never, ever go hungry… unless you’re a vegan. Most of our dishes are based on meat, fish or eggs. But, if you’re not began, 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.
Everything you heard about the hard-hitting financial crisis and the record-breaking unemployment is true. But the truth is, if you study in Portugal there are opportunities that you gain access to over here. While you do your degree, there are hundreds of start-ups and small companies who would love to welcome you into their team. Whatever language you speak, it is a language that will be useful to these companies that are trying to grow across the world. After your degree, if you get good grades, network hard and learn Portuguese, doors will be open to you both in that local start-up scene and in larger international businesses in some of the new world’s monster economies like Brazil and Angola.