by Rafaela Pacheco Dalbem
One of the most popular destinations for students who go for an Erasmus exchange programme, and international students in general, Portugal is a fascinating country with an interesting history.
Although a small country, Portugal was once a maritime empire and this is still visible upon the architecture and lifestyle of Portuguese cities. Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, in Portugal, you can easily combine academic performance with interesting and unforgettable leisure activities. From UNESCO sites, fantastic beaches and natural landscapes to music bars, Portugal is sure to provide a complete study experience.
Read below and figure out why should you consider Portugal when looking for a country to study abroad.
1. Attend some of the famous and well-ranked European universities
Portugal has one of the oldest universities in the world, dated from 1290. This is University of Coimbra and is known to have some of the best academic programmes in the world in fields like law, sociology and philosophy.
Apart from University of Coimbra, other Portuguese universities present in world university rankings are:
- University of Aveiro;
- University of Coimbra;
- University of Lisbon;
- University of Porto;
- University of Minho;
- NOVA University of Lisbon;
- ISCTE University Institute of Lisbon.
Coimbra and University of Porto count for the largest number of internationals and all Portuguese universities have extensive and well-developed services specially dedicated to foreign students. This is one of the reasons why so many internationals come to study in Portugal.
2. Apply to some of the most popular study fields in Portugal
Some popular study degrees in Portugal are:
A long time ago (around the 15th century), Portugal was a flourishing kingdom, conquering areas in South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Other interesting facts in Portugal’s records include a famous battle with Morocco, a political union made with Spain and the Peninsular war during the reign of Napoleon. This is in a nutshell, of course, but history degrees from Portuguese universities will help you find out more and study in the actual place where all of these events took place.
The architecture in Portuguese cities is quite impressive; the buildings are steeped in history, speaking for themselves about Portugal’s interesting past, influenced by Roman, Moorish, Spanish and French cultural elements.
During the 15th century, fine art flourished in Portugal and this became the first great age of Portuguese paintings; azulejos, the art of glazing tiles which you can still admire on the walls and floors of many palaces, mansions and churches, became an emblematic feature in Portuguese art.
Everyone knows that fado is the most popular local music that is also greatly appreciated worldwide and acknowledged as a cultural heritage. Even if you’re not interested in fado and want to specialise in a music instrument, Portugal is home to over 20 conservatories and music academies in all its major student cities.
Other popular courses of study in Portugal include:
However, you can find courses in almost any field and area of interest somewhere in Portugal; you’ll just have to take a closer look.
3. You don’t have to worry about high tuition fees or living costs
Portugal is still a cheap country compared with others in Western Europe. If money is an issue for you to study abroad, Portugal is a place that you really should consider. On average, for English-taught degrees, fees in public Portuguese universities range between 950 and 1,250 EUR/year. For PhD degrees, fees could exceed 2,000 EUR per year; find detailed information about university tuition fees in Portugal.
When it comes to your monthly living costs, students usually spend around 700 – 900 EUR, and in small student cities, you can fairly manage with 400 – 600 EUR.
4. Sightseeing in Portugal is full of big surprises
Portugal is home to fifteen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, covering museums, old churches and medieval castles.
You will have the stunning landscapes from the D'Ouro Region on the North to the beaches of the South that will leave you speechless, and in the middle, the Serra da Estrela, highest mountain in Continental Portugal. Not to mention the Azores and Madeira Island, far from the continent, close in the warm way to treat people. And there are still the historical sites in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Palmela, Évora and historical forts turned into villages like Almeida.
5. Indulge yourself with fantastically unique food and wine
Food and wine are serious things in Portugal. The "bacalhau" (cod fish) is by far the most famous ingredient in the country and Portuguese people say that there are 1001 ways to prepare it. But not only cod fish makes the Portuguese cuisine special; pork and goat are very easy to find on restaurants as well. And the wine? Well, each area says theirs is better. There are the world famous Port Wine and Moscatel from Setubal, but the wine list is infinite... Maybe you will need to go in person, spend some time, and try for yourself.
6. Seize the chance to learn Portuguese
Most Bachelor degrees in universities from Portugal are taught in Portuguese, while for Master degrees, you will find plenty of English-taught programmes to choose from. However, all universities encourage foreign students to attend Portuguese language classes, apart from their mandatory curricula.
Learning Portuguese will not only help you adjust easier in the country, but you will also better understand Portuguese culture and customs. And not just the Portuguese since this is the official language in nine countries.
Plus, it could bring you numerous benefits in your future career, since language skills are highly valued anywhere in this world.
7. Enjoy the lovely weather
Portugal has a Mediterranean climate with long and hot summer seasons and short and rainy winters. That means that summers averages are around 25°C (78°F), but they often get higher, while in the winter, you would experience temperatures of around 16°C (61°F). So there is basically no winter, just spring and summer; you will just have to bring some proper clothes for rainy days.
Portugal’s climate is just an additional benefit that makes everyone love this country and feel they are on a constant holiday.
If all these were convincing enough, start looking for Bachelor and Master degrees in Portugal, see how you can apply to a university in Portugal, and specific details about the student visa for Portugal.