STUDIUM & FREIZEIT
From our guest contributor Mimi
What can I say about my semester abroad in Portugal? Besides from the landscapes which spread in unusual colours, one does not see often; from the many beaches where each one has its own name and character; and from the freedom you smell in every corner of the capital city Lisboa. Without having good Portuguese knowledge, I thought it would be hard to adjust myself to a new country and its culture.
However, I was happily surprised to find so many people talking English as if it was their native language. My neighbour, who was around 60 years old, did not hesitate to do so every time when she saw me. Her asking about how my day went was one of the kindest qualities that Portuguese people have in common. I was lucky to have the coolest flatmates who did not only care about my well-being but who also were the most relaxed people I have ever met. One tradition which I re-learned in Lisbon was to have dinner all together – which made me feel included and at home in no time. By the way, dinner never happened without a soup first.
During my six months abroad, I barely had to wait longer than six minutes for the next metro to arrive. However, everything else is just slow. This is what I have been told but did not notice. The chatty cashier at the supermarket, the slow-walking people on the streets, my flatmate arriving late at his job. I would rather call it relaxed. Or I am just slow, too.
In Lisbon, June is known to be the month of celebrations. In honour of St. Anthony, Lisbon’s patron saint, there are festivities held almost every day in its oldest neighbourhoods such as Alfama, Bica and Bairro Alto. Traditional food like grilled sardines fills the streets with its smell and warmth. Please do not forget your jacket at home. Even with high temperatures around 30ºC during the day, they easily fall below 20ºC at night.
At the University
Uuuuh, my “favourite” spot to be at: the university. Contrary to Duisburg-Essen University with its more than 40.000 students, Universidade Católica Portuguesa has less than 10.000 students on the main campus. I learned a lot at Católica – not only studies related, but also about the fact that the option to go to class whenever you like is not a universal thing. Small classes with mandatory attendance put me back to high school times. That was when I felt grateful for the absence of attendance sheets at our university back home. Sometimes, getting sleep is just as important as going to a lecture. Despite this, I loved the architecture of the buildings at Católica, and Lisbon in general with its narrow streets and small squares. I was amazed by the stairs paving the way to the great university building and its big pillars. Instead of studying next to a huge construction site like the one in Essen, there you have beautiful flowers and gardens. I guess that made me much more willing to study.