Winter in Lisbon…

… or should I say “Winter” in Lisbon, since we still have maaaany sunny days with mostly around 19 degrees and it’s almost DECEMBER. Oh wow.. I knew that day would finally come when I am able to tease my friends back in Austria with snaps on a sunny day, palm trees in the background and the temperature filter on my pic.

It was definitely a good idea to spend winter in the south of Europe, or maybe not? brrrr I totally forgot that all the Portuguese houses were build only for summer temperatures!!!!!111eleven (At least, that’s what it feels like. haha) whaaat? The walls are so thin it makes the degrees fall to the same level as outside, oh and don’t get me started on the those super-isolated windows. Picture yourself camping outside in a tent and now imagine the (almost) same scenario inside a house. haha The past few days were still okay, which means I was doing fine with long sleeping pants and a t-shirt, but last night and I think tonight as well, I will need at least an extra cuddly jacket and my two thin blankets. (Thank you money-saving-Claudia for thinking a thin blanket from *insert Swedish store* would be enough.) Maybe I was so delusional and I didn’t want to admit that lying on the Carcavelos beach during the Christmas holidays is just not possible. *sigh*

Anyway, it’s still warmer than in Austria, ha! And all my Portuguese friends tell me it’s not going to be colder than this. I like the feeling of not having a freezing face everyday. haha

Over and out,

Claudia

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Jardim Zoológico Lisboa

Here we go again: A new blog post and it has not been more than 2 weeks already, ha! (only 10 days, but who is counting..) haha

As promised to my loyal followers on Facebook, I will finally show you the photos I took in Lisbon’s AMAZING zoo. That week I also received a special visit, which made this trip even better: Dr. Steel aka Captain Cool aka Bernhard. 😀 (I am not the one who came up with those names, I would have preferred the cute ones. hihihi)

Starting off with the entrance…You can already see a lot of cute ducks, peacocks and even monkeys jumping around before even paying the entrance fee. (Quick note for those fast food addicts out there: They even have a McDonald’s on the zoo premises. I have never seen this before. haha) However, the 20€ are totally worth it, because this is one of the coolest zoos I have seen so far. (And since I love animals I have been to quite a number of zoos, so I know what I’m talking about. :D)

What I really liked was the area with the tigers, because of the glass walls, which provides a pretty good view. One thing I really have to mention is the weird behavior of one tiger. It kept running against the glass and backed up in a very weird way. I don’t know what that tiger has been through but it must have been something disturbing. After a while it calmed down and I was able to take this cute photo. 🙂 Other than that it had a nice and big place to chill with many opportunities to hide. 😀

The best thing of this zoo was by far the cable car that takes you all over the premises with an amazing view of the animals. I don’t know who came up with that idea, but this is GREAT! For one, you get to watch the animals from this unique spot from above and I think it might be less stressful for the animals, since you only get the chance to look at them for a few seconds, since the cable car keeps moving without stopping and moreover there are still some great hiding spots if it’s getting too much for them.

So if you ever come to Lisbon and you are an animal lover as I am, this is the place to go! Below you will find my pictures. (click on each of the photos in order to make them bigger) Enjoy. 🙂

See you soon!

Claudia

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

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