Hello to all dear readers, my name is Melis and I’m from Ankara, Turkey. I was an Erasmus student in 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal for 6 months. And I’d be very honoured to give you some tips about my Erasmus experience and I hope that it can give you some useful ideas.
To be honest, I tried to write this so many times cause it’s really hard to express my feelings and describe the joy and happiness, I remembered old times and it got me so emotional so here it goes…
Erasmus makes your dreams come true
If you dream about it, you can make it. I really wanted to be an Erasmus student since the first time I heard about the programme. And by the time I searched, read, watched more about it, I realized it would be an magnificent opportunity to see different cultures, enhance social/personal skills, make friends from all around the world, and live abroad for some time. I was madly enthusiastic about this journey. Even though it’s not that long time I still consider that 6 months as best times of my life. You can always travel but you can’t live in another country for a long time.
Why Erasmus in Lisbon?
If you ask me why did you choose Portugal, well to be honest it was my only choice but came out as the best choice. If I would do another Erasmus I’d still choose Lisbon over and over again.
So what makes Lisbon that special? The first reason is people. People were so nice and helpful. They were always trying to make me feel comfortable and helping me in any kind of situations. I had no idea about the language before I go there but the people with all ages were all pretty good at speaking English and if aren’t, they were trying so hard. So I didn’t have any communication problems.
On the other hand, an important thing about the Portuguese people from my point of view they are stress FREE!!! They are late to everything and everywhere and first I was very stressed about university, professors, assignments, and all of them were fantastically chill. I was very punctual and they were coming even after hours and looking at me like ‘Why is she so early?’ even they were late for 1 hour at least. Then they told me if the meeting is at 19.00 you need to come at 20.00 and even that can be early. And guys, believe me they know how to have fun!
Social life in Portugal
They have amazing parties and celebrations. One of them is called Santos Populares and it is 1 month long! Everyone is outside on the streets, dancing, singing, drinking and eating with friends.
If these are not enough they are much more of Portugal; the expenses was pretty good compared to other countries I’d say, there were great beaches around the country and the beaches in Lisbon were super close to city centre like 30 mins. You get bored and want to have some sun and sand you just take the train and voila!
A must do before traveling
Before you go on Erasmus, don’t forget to check the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) that your future city or country has. There are amazing local volunteers there and help you so much about the city and everything. You’re gonna have a lot of issues about the transportation cards etc. when you arrive. And having a local buddy helps with its best!
The university that I’ve studied in Lisbon was Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde de Lisboa. I’m studying Nutrition and Dietetics. The school was so helpful. Erasmus coordinator was an amazing person. He helped with everything about the school and discovering the city. Your school’s support is very important in Erasmus. Before you go on Erasmus, you can always find some people has already done Erasmus in your future school and talk them. They can give you some idea about lessons, teachers and exams. My school was really helpful to Erasmus students and always supported us.
Like I said earlier, my school’s Erasmus coordinator helped a lot about the system. He sent some accommodation alternatives. But still, it was hard to find one. You need look and try to decide which is the best. You always have some uncertainty about safety. So the new Erasmus Play tool can help a lot about this important accommodation issue, be sure to check it out! I wish when I was looking for an accommodation Erasmus Play tool has existed.
Another tip about the accommodation in Lisbon is 100% I’d recommend is to find somewhere close to the subway because the subway system is really good. Beware about a station isn’t working right now. But all of them are so close to each other, you can walk 15min.
Traveling around Europe
During my Erasmus, I’ve visited 9 countries; France, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Germany and Spain and almost 20 cities including Portuguese ones. I’d really recommend you to check cheap flights (Ryanir, EasyJet...) all the time and buy the ticket without hesitation. So the biggest tip can be to manage your monthly spending if you want to travel around and spend your money on it. I’d never consider anything as a con during my Erasmus but if I have to, I’d say Portugal’s geopolitics position. It’s really in the corner of European continent and far away from other countries so it’s hard to buy train or bus tickets. Plane is literally the only option expect Spain. But this gives an amazing ocean to you!
The best about the Erasmus was obviously parties as you can imagine! But believe me you can’t believe until you see it. As I mentioned ESN was organizing amazing parties with rollicking themes. You definitely should join their every event. There are not only parties, festivals, lots of dinners, city tours, trips, club nights, beach days, surf days and many more. The ESN people are just there to rock you.
Before I was an Erasmus, I’d consider myself as open-minded and self-confident but no. When I landed to Lisbon, I was nothing but a lack of these. Erasmus made me who I am. It gave me so much confidence and I felt free as I’ve never felt before. Now I look back and I have unforgettable bonds with Lisbon and my friends. It became my second home. I hope you enjoyed while reading this, if you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact me! @melissevim1