Final post (lessons learned)

Hello Internet-Friends!

Yup, my Erasmus semester in Lisbon has officially ended and I still can’t believe how fast time flew by. But isn’t it always like that? I also can’t believe I will be finishing my Bachelor very soon and hopefully start the Master program I applied for.

Here are the two main things that I have learned during those 5 months in Lisbon:

1) Being tolerant. I thought I was always being a very open-minded person and very tolerant (which I definitly was) but this experience once again proved me wrong. Being tolerant has so many aspects and is not only restricted to those “typical” things such as race, religion, sexual orientation, you name it, but also to all kinds of little things you can think of. I don’t wanna get into too much detail here since this is not the main purpose of this post, but this should just be another small reminder for myself about what I have learned and how my mindset has yet again changed during this short period of time.

2) Time. I think I have mentioned this before, but here we go again: Do not take time too seriously. The Portuguese are totally different in their sense of time, but they still survive somehow! You could also use some of that attitude, Austria! Oh my, I had this surprisingly positive, but odd feeling popping up when I heard “Zweite Kassa, bitte!” (“Please open up another cash desk.” in a very rude manner) for the first time after I came back. hahaha

14 Places to visit in Portugal

Hello Internet-friends!

Since my last post (Lisbon Erasmus guide) I really got into that mood of telling you about what you could/should do if you choose Lisbon as your exchange semester location. Well, I guess not too many of my readers are considering that, though. hahaha. Still going to keep writing as long as I am inspired. Deal with it! Imagine me wearing cool sunglasses while preparing this guide for you on a rainy day. (Yes, rainy season is about to start. Noooooo.) So without further ado, here is a list of places that are worth a visit:

  1. Belem: area that belongs to Lisbon, Mosteiro dos Jerónimos (monestery), Torre de Belém (very famous tower), Centro Cultural de Belém (looks very nice from the outside, about the inside I don’t know, because I have only seen in from far away haha)
  2. Cascais: it takes about 40mins by train to get to this small town (leaving from Cais do Sodre), very touristy place, Farol da Guia (lighthouse with a nice view)
  3. Carcavelos: about 25mins by train, nice beach and easy to reach
  4. Sintra: about 40mins by train (Rossio train station), known for its very old palaces, very beautiful landscape (Google it)
  5. Óbidos: about 1h by car, I would not recommend the train since it takes waaaay too long compared to the car, know for its Christmas town (also middle ages market in summer)
  6. Coimbra: about 2h by car or 2-3h by train, one of the bigger cities in Portugal, according to wikipedia many students are living there, maaany sights you should definitely see (one of the cities than many people recommended me to go)
  7. Setúbal: 40mins by car and much longer by train, one of the trips organized by the language course faculty (FCSH), known for the good wine
  8. Nazaré: known for its HUGE waves –> take a look at the pictures on Google haha (up to 30 meters)
  9. Caldas da Reinha: near Óbidos, famous for its thermal water, also organized by the language course faculty
  10. Évora: 40mins car ride, Temple of Diana (Roman Temple of Évora), language course faculty trip
  11. Batalha: near Nazaré, Batalha Monastery
  12. Algarve: region in the very south of Portugal, know to look like a “paradise”, very nice beaches, etc
  13. Porto: Stop talking, just go there! Either by plane or by bus (both starting at 10-15€), Look in my previous blog posts, I uploaded a lot of pictures from my trip. 🙂
  14. Madeira: (kind of) near the Canary Islands, if you are lucky you can find a flight for about 50-60€ round trip, very well known for its wine

Hopefully you find some places worth a visit after my brief summary. I have got all the information from 1) being there and telling about my own experience, 2) remembering what others told me or 3) doing a little research on Google. I am very open and would also really appreciate it if you find some mistakes and tell me, or if you have anything to add to this list. Thank you in advance! 🙂

Cheers!

Claudia

p.s. I took that photo in Porto. 🙂

Lisbon Erasmus guide

Moving to a different city can be scary at first, especially when you hardly know anyone. So if you ever plan on going to Lisbon, you are lucky, because you know ME and I can help you with the first steps when arriving here. haha 😀

Accomodation

First things first, I am assuming you don’t wanna live under a bridge, so you definitely need a place to stay. But where to start? Well, you need to decide if you wanna be on the safe side and find a room before arrival or if you consider yourself a very brave person who likes adventures and accepts the challenge of finding a place last minute.

If you are the first type, I can tell you, there are a lot of online platforms, which help you with finding the right apartment for you. (e.g. uniplaces, inlife Portugal, and maaaany more –> google is your friend) I even got some offers sent to me by Nova SBE. One thing you might be concerned about (at least I was) is: Can I really trust those platforms? Does it really look like in the pictures? Is it a good neighborhood? Any noisy streets in front of my window? I did not book a room on those platforms, but I can tell what I have heard about it: At least nobody of the people I know has complained about it so far, but one disadvantage might be that you usually have to pay the first rent in advance, but then again, you are on the save side. 😀

If you would like to see the room first, before paying anything you will probably need to go down the not-so-safe-but-more-adventurous-highway. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it seems, because in Lisbon it is actually very easy to find a room. So for you, I recommend: Just book a hostel for a week or two and you will surely end up fine.

Regarding the different areas in Lisbon: A good place might be somewhere around the blue line, especially between “Marques de Pombal” and Baixa-Chiado”. The red metro is also fine in the areas between “Sao Sebastião” and “Bela Vista” or “Chelas”, since it’s not far from where it crosses all the other lines. (haha, this might me confusing, just take a look at the map)

Metro

The easiest way getting around the city is definitely by metro, since it is the only way of transportation that cannot get stuck in traffic. And ohhhh trust me, you do not wanna have the same experience as me when taking the bus during rush hour. Sitting in the bus for 1,5h instead of 20mins IS NOT FUN! HAHAHA! Back to my point: You will need a ticket for your stay and most Erasmus students usually buy the monthly ticket. (about 35€ each) BUT! You should know, in order to receive your pass you have to fill out some form, wait for a day and also pay (I think) 12€. After that you can top up your pass every month. Don’t forget to bring your passport, a photo and a loooooot of patience for waiting in line. 😉

Sim card

Getting a Portuguese sim card is essential if you don’t want your phone bill to suck the money out of your bank account. The best thing about it is: You don’t have to do anything to acquire it! 😀 Well almost… The Erasmus Student Network (ESN) or Erasmus Life Lisboa (ELL) will give you a sim card (at the welcome event at Nova SBE or in their offices) and the cool thing about it is, that the first month is for free! After that you need to pay for the upcoming months at a store of the network provider. If you own a Portuguese bank account (at the campus you will have a chance to open an account) you can top up your sim card at any ATM without paying a small fee.

Portuguese language course

Falas Português? If not, I got this really good offer for you: The language courses at FCSH (Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas) near Campo Pequeno. It’s 50€ for one semester with 4h each week, but sadly, it’s only for students from the European Union, so as an “international” student you will have to pay 350€ for the same course. WHAT? (I know it’s subsidized by the EU, but it’s still mean. haha :P)

ELL/ESN card

If you consider yourself a party animal and you cannot miss one single event, you should definitely get on of those cards. (Or even both? haha) You might have already guessed it, those card are issued by the two student networks mentioned above, and the advantages of holding such a fancy card are discounts or free entry to all kinds of clubs or events and even on ELL/ESN trips to different cities. I got my ELL card at the welcome event at Nova and paid 12€ for it. (Oh, and bring a photo)

I hope this was helpful for some of you and, I can tell you, coming to Lisbon is totally worth it, because it is a very cool and beautiful city and I am really happy about my choice.

Buh bye!

Claudia

Weekend trip to Porto

Finally, I have been to Porto. It is located in the north of Portugal and – as far as I know – the second biggest city of Portugal with about 200.000 inhabitants. So pretty much the same size as my home town Linz. 😀 Usually, I am not a big fan of small cities, but I really liked it there.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will rather just show you how it was than blablabla-ing about it in this post. Here are just a few facts about the trip:

  • 3-4h bus ride
  • We were a group of – I think – 11 people.
  • We stayed in a pretty nice hostel in the center of Porto.
  • Porto has maaaaany bridges.
  • We also did a wine tasting.
  • Aaaaand we went surfing again.
  • More photos might follow after I managed getting the rest of them.

 

 

Surfing in Carcavelos

YES, I have finally lost my surf-virginity. I mean, who comes to Portugal and does not go surfing? It’s like skiing when you are in Austria.

First things first: I think you’ve already guessed it: Yosi joined me last Sundayfunday (25th of September). After a 40-minutes ride by train we arrived in Cascais where the surf school is located. While wandering around the small and beautiful city center of Cascais, we were able to witness the Cascais Triathlon which led through the streets of the town.

After arriving at the surf school, we discovered that it is not only a surf school, but also a hostel with maaaaaany Germans staying there. I have already got used to hearing my mother tongue literally everyday and everywhere. (Even the Persian owner of a shisha bar talked to me in German. haha) Lisbon seems like the second home for Germans after Mallorca. haha  Fun fact: The majority of international students at Nova SBE are Germans, followed by Italians.

Moving on to the cool part: The surf lesson at the Caracavelos beach. (15mins drive from the Cascais surf school) Although it has already been a week, I still hear my teacher screaming: “Paddle, paddle, paddle!!!!! PADDLE FASTER!!!!!!” (imagine it with this cool Portuguese accent haha) This is what you have to do if you want to catch a wave, which is veeeeery difficult. I only managed to catch a wave once on my own, while the other times I have always had help from my teacher. haha. Even though I fell off the surf board more times than I can count and swallowed a lot of sea water, I had so much fun and I am looking forward to my next surf lessons. (Already booked one in Porto. ;))

Aaaaaand since we were such good surf students, Yosi and I rewarded ourselves with delicious burgers in Cascais. 😀

Have a nice week! 😀

Claudia

Let’s talk about money.

Oh hello there,

Yes, you have read correctly. I am now going to tell you a bit about how expensive (or inexpensive) the life in Lisbon is. Of course, this is based on a comparison between my home country Austria and Lisbon, because these are the only places I have lived long enough (and not been on vacation), to be able to tell about the amount of expenses.

First of all, my considerably high experience in shopping groceries derives from my regular visits in supermarkets. (That sounds pretty impressive, doesn’t it?) Anyway, I have already found quite a high number of products, which are so much cheaper than in Vienna. Here are some of them:

  • 250g of sliced cheese (which tastes by the way really good) for 1€ (no, not 0.99€. It’s exactly 1€.)
  • water: Let’s leave the fact aside, that in Vienna most people drink water from the tap. Here they don’t, because it has a slight taste of chlorine. 5l of Water cost 0.45€. Whaaat? In Austria, the cheapest bottle of water (1.5l) costs about 0.20€ (if I recall correctly, because I don’t buy these very often)
  • noodles: As mentioned in one of my previous posts, 500g of noodles, and I mean ALL KINDS OF NOODLES (including colorful, Farfalle, etc.) cost 0.75€.
  • milk: I have to buy lactose-free milk, which is always more expensive than “normal” milk in Austria. Ha! Not in Lisbon, here it’s 0.95€ per liter, which is at least 10cents cheaper than in the Viennese supermarkets.
  • canteen at the campus: As far as I know, the Nova campus has 2 canteens. You get a meal for 2.5€ (or 3€), including a soup, dessert and a drink. Well, don’t get me even started on the prices at the WU campus. IT’S 5-6€ FOR A MEAL. (sometimes including a drink or a soup) And NO, you gotta buy that dessert separately, which is another 2-4€, depending on weather you want just a single cookie or a huge piece of delicious chocolate cake. (ok, now I want chocolate.)
  • McDonald’s: I am guilty. I have been there. Too many times already. Some things are definitely cheaper. Done. Next.
  • night life: YES, one more cool thing about Lisbon: It has so many opportunities when you want to go out at night. It seems like there are hundreds of different bars and clubs. I have been at a club, where a GIN tonic is about 6€. (capital letters, because the amount of gin in there is way more than I expected.) In Austria you will have to pay around 8€ for a long drink with less alcohol. (I recommend “loco”, a decent bar for having a cheap night out. Jk, don’t go there. And don’t trust the people on the “Jodel” app who tell you otherwise. :D)

 

The end. 😀 (Too lazy to write a concluding paragraph.)

Thank you all for reading my blog. I really appreciate it and I would love to hear from you too. Don’t be shy, just leave a quick comment here. I am looking forward to reading them! (or on my Facebook post, if you don’t have a WordPress account)

Claudia

WU Vienna vs. Nova SBE (university comparison)

Hello! Great to have you here again.

Sorry for not posting the past few days, but I needed time to get some inspiration and you know… in life, you sometimes have to face the more serious things like university and you don’t have time for anything else.

haha okay, just kidding, I would have had time for my blog, but didn’t have any great ideas to write about. Also, I don’t want to write just for the sake of writing, but to have some good memories about cool stuff.

Speaking of university… you might have already figured out (by reading the title) that this is a text about me comparing my home university (WU Vienna) and the Nova SBE in Lisbon. Of course, I have only had a few classes by now, but I can already tell that there is an obvious difference between the teaching-styles or the general structure of the courses.

okay, here we go:

Nova SBE

  • there are two different types of classes (practical and theoretical ones)
  • for each course, there are about 3 classes a week (1,5h each class)
  • it seems that most of the grades consist of many little tasks (group work, individual assignment, homework, participation, mid-term and final exam)

WU Vienna

  • only one type of class
  • classes mostly once a week (sometimes twice)
  • in many courses, the final exam accounts for either the whole grade or for a great percentage of the grade
  • sometimes the classes are 4 or more hours long

 

Surely, this overview of the Nova SBE is not done thoroughly, since I only attend 3 classes here and the semester has also just started. But, again, I think I am already able to tell that there are big differences in these aspects. I think (for obvious reasons) for the learning outcome it’s better, if the classes are split up into 3 short sessions a week. Furthermore, this is what I have always disliked about the WU’s course structure: The final exam accounting for 100% of the final grad is STUPID! Yeah sure, you can pass a course without attending any classes, without “wasting” your time doing homework or whatever during the semester, but why the hell do you want to study if you want to get it over with as fast as you can? Lazy people are gonna hate me for this, but that’s my opinion. You are crazy (and not in the good way) if you “study” like that. Enjoy it, you are not only studying for your future job.

—> and I am saying this, because I have met so many people at my university who just study, because they study.

okay, enough raging for today, adeus e até logo! 😀

Claudia

p.s. YES, there are palm trees on the campus. 😀

 

First impressions of the Portuguese language

Bom dia!

Wednesday was an interesting day, because for the first time I had the pleasure having someone explaining to me what has been the most confusing thing so far: the Portuguese language. And I can tell you, it was amazing and scary at the same time.

So far, I have learned speaking English and also un poco de Español in school, but now I am sure Portuguese will be the biggest challenge. Of course, studying English as a 10 year old seemed like a piece of cake, especially since I have always been very curious and interested in languages generally. Compared to that, Spanish was a bit more difficult. But when I was attending that Portuguese class for the first time, I thought: “How am I ever going to learn to speak properly? The pronunciation is insane!” In one of my first Spanish lesson back in school, the teacher quickly explained to us how to say a few words. – and I am not joking – After that, I was able to read anything in Spanish, even though I couldn’t understand it. In Portuguese I don’t know if I will ever be able to properly say a reasonably amount of words or understand them. My mouth is not able to produce many of the sounds the teacher makes.

Imagine this: The teacher showing you a table depicting all the vowels and different ways how to say them. Believe me, this was one of the most confusing things ever. There are 4 or 5 different ways how to pronounce “a”. wtf? Same with all the other vowels.

I mean, I am totally aware of the fact that there are many other languages, which might be even more difficult to learn or to pronounce, but here I am faced with the fact that I have  to study it in order to communicate with most of the people here. Yeah sure, almost everyone here speaks English perfectly well, but let me remind you of that Portuguese-speaking taxi driver who was not able to understand the easiest words as “house”, “left” or “right”. Who knows where he would have taken me if I didn’t know how to correctly pronounce the metro station near my address. haha 😀

Claudia

 

Weird things in Lisbon

Hello friends!

Those of you, who have read my two-piece text about me dealing with the Portuguese culture (Thanks, I appreciate that.), might have already figured out that I am pretty confused by a few things. But I can tell you, there are plenty of other facts that make me freak out on a daily basis. Here is a list of weird things in Lisbon compared to my home country Austria:

weird/cool things in supermarkets

  • The price for colored noodles is the same as not-colored noodles. (yay)
  • I don’t know how to pronounce that brand, but I love pingo doce. (for my Austrian readers: equivalent to Clever and sBudget, but still cheaper than these)
  • Many product labels are in German.
  • Much more product labels are in Portuguese. (thank you, internet-god for online dictionaries)
  • Every time at the cashier: “amewoiweneoadjads = Do you need an extra bag?” (At least I think that’s what it means.) Me: no. (Hoping that the Spanish word “no” is also “no” in Portuguese.)
  • And my favorite: They sell colorful toilet paper!
IMG_1152.JPG
Admittedly, this is pretty cool.

closed metro stations

Now this makes me appreciate the naively trustful underground system in Vienna, where you don’t need to scan your ticket every f* time you enter the metro station. Thanks, Wiener Linien. (Austrian metro operator)

Oh.. and by the way: Great thanks to the Wiener Linien for operating the trains through the whole night during the weekend. 😀 –> Which brings me to the next point, since I have to take a taxi when staying out later than 1am:

taxi driver

A few days ago when I took a taxi home, the driver kept talking to me in Portuguese and after telling him twice that I don’t understand anything he is saying, I just went on replying to him “mmh :)”. I tipped him quite generously, because I guess he was saying nice things. 😀

“first name, last name” instead of “last name, first name”

Imagine someone asking you for your name, because they want to tick it off a list. What would you tell them first? Well, since on the list the last names are in an alphabetical order, I would say my last name first. WRONG! Believe me, this has already happened to me a couple times, when someone was NOT able to find me on a list because the people were listed with their first names first. WHAT? I mean, now that I think about it, it’s not that weird after all, since some people might have much more confusing last names than first names, but it’s just not how it is done in Austria.

This happened to me when I picked up my monthly ticket for the metro. On the form, that I filled out it said: “How do you want your name to be written on the card?” Of course, I write: “last name, first name”. It took the man at the office about 5 minutes (usually it’s done in 15 seconds) to find my ticket. During that time he also made 2 calls to whoever might have it. Same situation when receiving my student ID card, applying for the language course and at the student union’s welcome dinner.

slippery floors – EVERYWHERE

In many parts of Lisbon (at least in the areas where I have been so far.) tiles were being used to build the sidewalks. When you think about it, they put a lot of effort in it to make it look really cute, which is nice. BUT one thing no one thought about back then is that it is going to be a tiny, little problem when you 1) either walk fast/run or 2) you walk down or up the hills (of which Lisbon definitely has more than you can imagine) with shoes that have no grip . By now, I have managed not to fall, but since I know myself very well, falling down in the tough streets of Lisbon will surely happen during my exchange semester. When you plan a trip to Lisbon anytime soon, make sure you bring your hiking boots. 😀

 

Well, you never stop learning. Ok, bye!

Claudia