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 😀
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)
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. 😉
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)
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.