One of the reasons why I choose Lisbon for my exchange program was the climate. And it was so wonderful to come from our freezing winter to spring and see green trees and palms and not to wear all the heavy winter clothes any more! When I first walked around the city center I was excited by Lisbon! The city is situated on hills and its architecture which reminds Mediterranean towns is so different from what I am used to! Although the city is not very clean and some buildings looked a little bit untidy the city is charming!
Portugal has a lot of wonderful landscapes. You can see beautiful sandy beaches and rocks. Not far from Lisbon a great place is situated – Cape Rock – the most western point of continental Europe. Smaller cities and towns are also beautiful. For example Porto has a lot of colorful small houses which look quite unusual and nice. The information about all the touristic beauties you can find on any website or watch my photos on vkontakte.ru
Advantages and disadvantages.
Portugal has beautiful nature and a good climate. In average +10 - +15 in winter and +25 in summer. Since the beginning of April I could go to the beach although the ocean is not warm. You can do surfing there.
Portugal is one of the cheapest European countries. Portuguese people are nice and friendly.
One of the main disadvantage is that we couldn’t obtain C+D visa – only C, so we didn’t have right to travel around Europe. But it is possible to go to Spain by land.
Talking about the studies – they are not difficult but very little bachelor subjects match our GSOM program. But you can try to ask to take some masters subjects.
The work of the international office is not organized quite well.
I can’t say that it was difficult to adapt to new environment. Majority of people in Lisbon speak English, or at least understand. Portuguese people are nice and friendly. What first I didn’t feel quite comfortable with was that people greeted each other with kiss in two cheeks.
During the first day Catolica’s students showed us the university, helped to know each other, provided us with general information. Also they helped us to find apartments. Also during introduction week we had some excursions and welcome dinner.
The girl who works in the international service is friendly and nice but often forgets things and never answers e-mails. So if you want to ask her to do something you should better call her or come, but not write e-mails. And if she promises to do something it is better to come after several hours or the next day and ask if she had done it.
There is a buddy program in Catolica.
Campus facilities were like in GSOM. Wi-Fi, computer classrooms, cafeteria. Also after some time we discovered an outdoor cafeteria in the next building of law faculty. When the weather is nice you can study or have coffee outside on the grass.
It vas very convenient that on the site of the faculty we could download all the files and presentations and we could do it at home.
During the first week you can attend all the courses and see which you like and which not. You can change you courses only during the first week.
Unfortunately there are not many courses in English for bachelors that correspond with our GSOM courses. Before registration International office told that we can’t take master’s courses, actually it is possible.
I will tell you in brief about the courses I took:
Business Strategy. I think was the most demanding. The attendance counted and we analyzed cases in groups.
Topics in marketing. We had lectures concerning consumer behavior, media channels. The course was demanding but interesting. Before Easter Break we did Easy Homework every week and after Easter break we had to write a report – development of media mix for a company.
Product and customer management. It was a marketing subject, but I didn’t understand quite well what exactly it was about. We had to write a couple of reports for it. The teacher is nice and funny.
Relational marketing. It was an easy subject, attendance was not obligatory and the teacher gave us very good slides. During this course we created a site about ourselves. Actually if you do the site, you pass the exam.
Social entrepreneurship. Was also easy and attendance was not obligatory. More real life examples than theory. In the end we had to write a business plan of a project.
You can choose intensive language course, which takes place in the beginning and lasts 2 weeks – 5 days a week, 3 hours every evening. After it you pass an exam.
Also there is extensive course which begins in March and takes place twice a week. It is possible to take both courses. If you take intensive you will study extensive not on the beginner level but on intermediate.
Teaching style in Catolica is different from GSOM. First, lectures last 1 hour 20 mins. The teachers are more sociable and communicate with students in a more informal way. In GSOM we always obtain a lot of information in one lecture and sometimes it is difficult to remember and understand everything. But in Catolica professors explain the things more and they are tend to repeat things more then once, so that you remember everything from class and it’s easier to prepare to an exam. They tend to use cases and involve students into discussion more than in GSOM
University library doesn’t have a rich variety of books. There are not many new editions. If you take books and don’t return them on time, they will ask you for a fee – about 5 euro for a book per month. If you don’t bring them on time you don’t have to pay if you know that you will not come back.
The school doesn’t provide dormitories. But they help to find accommodation.
First couple of days I lived in hostel, but on the 3rd day I watched a couple of flats and rented a room in one of them. University has a database of rooms and they help us to choose and arrange meetings with landlords. Rooms are rented separately and when you move in usually some rooms are already occupied by some students who may be from different countries. How quite is your flat depends on neighbors. Some students lived in flat with other exchange students and they had party everyday, but you can find a quite flat with calm neighbors. The price range is from 180 to 350 euro for a room. Flat usually have Wi-Fi, washing machine, microwave, etc.
Lisbon is not very big city. Its population is 500 000 people or 2 mln together with the suburbs.So everything is quite close. There is subway in Lisbon. It takes about half an hour to get from center to university. Majority of students rent flats in the centre so that they don’t have to spend money on taxi after parties at night. You don’t have to call taxi by phone as a lot of them circulate around the city.
Accommodation. 190-350 for a room
Textbooks. We didn’t need a lot of textbooks. Only compendium for Portuguese language course – 5 euros. Printing costs nearly like in GSOM.
- Monthly pass for subway, bus and tram - 15.
- Suburb train – 1.70 – 2.20
- Monthly pass for one destination for suburb train (for example to go to the beach) – 12-17
- A trip in subway, tram or bus if you don’t have monthly pass – 0.8 – 1.
- Bus to the beach – 2.75
- Taxi around the city – 5-7
- Taxi from centre to the airport 8-10.
- Train Lisbon – Porto – 16
- Bus Lisbon – Madrid – 40
- Car rental – around 30 per day
Advice: go to Cascais – a suburb of Lisbon near the ocean and rent bicycles for free.
Food. Prices are quite the same as in Spb. Frots and vegetables are a bit cheaper, meat is a bit more expensive, fish and sea food cost the same. The average dinner in a restaurant costs 8-20. Lunch in university canteen is 4. Drinks in the numerous bars in the city centre are cheap. McDonalds prices are the same))
Entertainment. Cinema ticket costs 5. Entrance to a night club is 8-16 with 2 drinks included. There are some night clubs where you can come for free.
Clothes are cheaper than in SPb.
Mobile: Exchange students are given TMN sim-cards in the university and we can call and write messages each other for free. But call to other networks like Vodaphone are a bit expensive. Calls to Russia and around Europe are quite accessible.
University organizes some parties or other events, but they don’t properly inform exchange students about them. The posters of this events are usually on Portuguese, so that exchange students just don’t notice them.
There are organizations that organize parties: Erasmus Lisboa http://www.erasmuslisboa.com/ and ESN Lisboa http://www.esn-lisboa.org/. They organize parties and trips.
It’s quite easy to expand your social network because exchange students from different universities live together and all of them are very sociable. But exchange students mostly spend time with each other, more then with Portuguese students.
University has quite enough sport facilities. As far as I remember there is a swimming pool, basketball, tennis, volleyball, fitness, etc. The prices are accessible. And on the beaches you can find surfing schools. You can rent a surfboard or if you want to surf a lot you can buy a second-hand board and sell it in the end.
For visa I needed to collect the following documents to the Portuguese embassy which is situated in Moscow (hope I didn’t forget anything):
- Plane tickets
- Original copy or fax of Acceptation Letter (Ana Rita Dias – international office manager in Catolica forgot to send it to us on time by post, so the best solution was to call her and ask to send it by fax directly to the embassy)
- Financial statement: record from your bank account or document about grant (The requirement was 50 euros per day, but if in you financial document the sum of money is less – it’s ok.)
- Medical insurance (you can buy it in the embassy, but it is cheaper to make it in “Югория”)
- Criminal record (I obtained it in УВД and it took me about 1 month)
First I had to call to the embassy and set up a date of application. I applied 29 of December and my visa was ready at the end of January.
They gave me visa for 3 month and I prolonged it in Portugal.
To prolong visa you need to call to SEF – Service of Foreigners and Borders (www.sef.pt) and sign up, but on a date not earlier than one month before visa expiry. They will ask you to bring some documents:
- Fiscal number. To obtain it you need to go to Loja da Cidadao with some Portuguese person.
- Criminal record from Portugal. Also from Loja da Cidadao.
- Address statement. To obtain it you need to go to Junta de Fregesia of your neighborhood.
- Financial statement (bank record or document about a grant)
- Statement of study. You take it in Catolica.
I opened a Portuguese account. I had to bring some documents like address statement and fiscal number. It was for free and I was able to withdraw money without any fee, to pay card everywhere (in some places foreign bank card is not accepted or payment is more expensive) and to recharge my phone with money in every ATM which you can find everywhere.
What to bring.
- Swimming suit, of coarse!
- Photo camera.
- Copy of financial statement that you needed for visa.
- Bed linen, maybe. Because when you find a flat first day you don’t know where to buy it cheaper.
- Good mood and friendly smile!