So this blog is a little late, as usual. I have a boatload set to come out this week to catch up on what I have missed in the last few weeks. Last year, I did a month of study abroad with UMass Dartmouth Summer in Lisbon. This year, I was blessed to spend the month with the new cohort and play a role in helping to orient them to the city. However, that left little time for blogging 😉
Moving on, where the heck am I spending the summer?! This summer, I arrived in Lisbon in the beginning of June and I am living near the suburbs (Odivelas) … about 2-3 metro stops away into the city. It is a bit of a commute to the school where I am working but I don’t mind! I am living at a good friend’s house… here is my room!
Isn’t it très chic? Every morning I get to wake up to this view:
Plus, my roommate’s cat has thumbs! Here she is:
She is darling. Her name is Luna!
The school I am researching at is ISEG- the same school that hosts the UMass Dartmouth program I attended last summer and hung out with this year. My mentor or the professor I am researching with is Dr. Prof. Eduardo Sousa Ferreira. He is an African Studies specialist who was exiled during the Salazar period for his work in helping the revolutions in Africa! He has been incredibly inspirational throughout this fellowship so far and has helped me access many different African Studies libraries in Lisbon.
I love ISEG. It is seriously one of the nicest universities in Lisbon. The main campus is beautiful with two large white buildings surrounding a courtyard and then two huge flights of stairs on either side of the 4 story library- one leading to the old convent that used to exist there (much of the original azulejo remains intact there!) and the other leading to the big office buildings that the professors use. It’s there that I do my research. This is the view from my professor’s window- it overlooks the Rio Tejo! Beautiful!
To get to work, I like to get off at the Rato metro stop and walk down Rua de São Bento. It’s a charming old road full of antique shops and this amazing genuine gelato place called Santini! 2 euros for a delicious cone with two scoops- super dangerous. I’ve only been there twice though.
Best part of the road to work? Passing by the house of my idol, Amalia Rodrigues- fado extraordinaire!
Rua de São Bento is truly charming. Here are some other views I have along the street: Beautiful azulejo lined homes in the top pics, a view of Parliament right across the street from the school, many foundations that host free cultural and academic events, stores that sell “antiguidades” or antiques (middle right picture), and some delicious places to have lunch or dinner (Casa Macau Indian Restaurant- not sure why it’s called Casa Macau but oh well) or a snack (tea house on the bottom right picure).
One thing is for sure, the effects of the economic crisis can be experienced everywhere in the city. Graffiti has become increasingly political, for example. Another thing I noticed is the incredibly large amount of empty apartments I see everywhere… really makes me wonder where everyone went. Many local graffiti artists have incorporated the same sentiment into some of their work (top left picture: graffiti says “Aqui podia viver gente” or “Here people could live,” top middle picture: “Criar emprego” or “Make new jobs,” and top right picture: “Baixar as rendas” or “lower rent rates”). I particularly liked the bottom graffiti, which poses the question: “Até quando vais ser ovelha?” or “How long are you going to be a sheep?”
I did notice some other popular topics in the graffiti, such as this complex one that is promoting green feelings: The corporate businessman is drinking out the oil from the Earth through a straw and his crown has the logos for several gas and oil corporations.
As for the economic crisis, conditions here are only worsening. The austerity measures have many people on edge and they are certainly not making anything better. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jul/11/how-austerity-has-failed/?pagination=false#.UcjLCuFQiVQ.twitter
(P.S. Greece is just as bad, if not worse http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/opinion/global/greece-at-the-boiling-point.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0
Actually, many people don’t know which country is at its worst at this point, some even predict that Portugal might end up in a more dire situation than Greece. It’s chillingly frightening.)
But I am rather shocked at the low levels of protest I see here. I attended the greve geral or strike on Thursday, June 27th and honestly I was not impressed. This was during the time of the protests in Brazil and they were making great strides in their efforts, http://www.bostonreview.net/blog/pardon-inconvenience-we-are-changing-country , and then there were the protests in Turkey and the Turkish journalists risking their lives by covering the demonstrations when they had been told not to do so.
Here, during the greve geral, everyone was supposed to meet at the Rossio plaza at 2 or 2:30, and then I am assuming that they walked the 30 min journey to Parliament. I arrived at the Parliament building at 4:30 and this was all that was left:
SERIOUSLY? I didn’t know what to think. I heard that the strike had moved, and the police were pretty tight that day. But for a country with such serious economic problems, I don’t know if the people are just too preoccupied with their fight for survival or if the rowdy Portuguese flame that overthrew Salazar has just been beaten down by Europe and the Troika.
Anyways, there are more posts to come.. just playing catch up! I have loved being in Lisbon again. I feel that every time you learn more about a city or spend more time in it, it becomes smaller. I visited the suburbs of Lisbon for the first time a few weeks into my visit and it was really an eye opener. I don’t know how to explain it, but for miles and miles it just looks like a pop-up storybook full of white and yellow apartment buildings built onto these massive hills. Many commute into the city, but it looks really confusing to get to some of the apartments!
I also felt like I was driving through Brazil because some of those hills looked like favela communities. It was a very new and eye opening experience. More blogs to come on some religious customs and musings I had, my research, Portuguese historical monuments, and more…
Beijos e abraços, meus amigos.