Hello! For those of you reading this post, you must be loved ones, close friends or even new friends and I hope you enjoy this blog as a way to share in my adventures in Portugal this summer. For those of you who do not know me, here is a short background: My name is Marielena Dias and I am a 3rd year student at the University of Florida studying political science with an emphasis on European Union studies and international relations. My interests are international law, teaching or working in politics, and international relationships among nations especially considering influences such as culture and religion. I am part of a research group in the U.S.- the McNair Scholars Program (miss you all!) and I recently received a research fellowship as well. I am of Portuguese descent and I hope to one day return to Portugal to work on a Master’s or Doctorate.
Starting this blog was a bit difficult because there are just so many aspects to studying and traveling abroad that have a right to be told and should be included when telling stories. I have only been in Lisbon with my study abroad program for the last 3 days but already there are so many adventures and moments I wish I could share. Even if I were to share them in stories, I will never be able to fully transfer the images in my mind of how blue the sky gets here or how crisp and clear the air feels when I walk about the city in the mornings. Furthermore, I am slowly but surely falling in love with this city and, because of this (as often happens to people in love), my mind is constantly memorizing every single detail of the city and I find my surroundings to grow more beautiful each morning I wake up to greet them.
In my lifetime, I have only visited Portugal a handful of times. Last summer, I visited my family in the town I spent the happiest moments of my childhood in- Carregal do Sal. It was the first time I had visited in 5 years, and I realized how much I missed the environment when I returned to the U.S. for college in the fall. I made myself a promise that I would return again the following summer some way or another. Over the year, I spent hours looking at educational opportunities in Portugal for graduate studies and I found a few that I really liked. However, spending a short vacation in a country with family is radically different from actually studying and working there, so that was the primary motivator for my visit this summer- to see how I might like being part of the university community in Portugal.
One of the things I love most about being a student is the opportunity to experience life in a way that adults my age may never get to. As a university student, I can pack my bags and spend six months or one year in a completely different country and continue learning fascinating subjects. I can experiment different cultures and meet new people to see what region of the world I someday want to call home. Who says that you can’t go anywhere, do anything, or be anyone. We are all capable of making the most of this life, and it is our right to do so. No adult working in a typical job can ask for half a year to go visit a new part of the world for an internship or study abroad program, but students can do this and find themselves in ways never imagined possible.
Stories and photos to come, starting with my current location and the city surrounding me, the institute I will be studying in and adventures I have already had in Portugal. Since I arrived in late May, I have had to chance to explore the lovely country I call home. I know that en even when I am old and gray in the future, I will never forget the sights of the beaches I visited (Cascais, Estoril, and Carcavelos) or the Mardi-Gras-like spectacle of the Marchas Populares and how comfortable I felt celebrating the Portuguese holiday Dia de Santo Antonio even though I was with complete strangers. I can’t wait to see what else this city, this country and this life has to offer over the next couple of months.
Beijo, meus amigos, até logo. ✌
☝P.S. That means “A kiss, my friends, until we meet again.”