So one of the things that I have been dying to write about is very near and dear to my heart. I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures, but this is a super important blog to me!
I have been working at ISEG all summer- the Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão or the Superior Institute for Economics and Management. At ISEG, I have used some of my down time to check out some of the academic programs they offer, and I am very impressed! For example, I am very interested in development studies within political science. They have a Master’s program in Development that takes one year to complete and the total cost of tuition (propina) is less than $6000! What?!
I read an article recently on how Portuguese universities are some of the best in Europe. Check it out here ✏ http://marketeer.pt/2013/05/13/universidades-portuguesas-entre-as-melhores-do-mundo/. 3 universities in Portugal made it in the top world-wide rankings of professional schools!
There are many benefits to attending programs in Portugal, especially for students that are Luso-Americans with Portuguese heritage! To start off with…
1. COSTS!!!! It’s all about the money, honey! Dinero, moolah, the big bucks… I cannot stress this enough. Here are some examples of Master’s programs at ISEG: http://aquila.iseg.utl.pt/aquila/instituicao/ISEG/cursos/mestrados. If those prices are not ultra seductive to prospective students everywhere, I don’t know what is! Think of the costs that are incurred for the average Master’s program in the U.S. $40,000 a year at a school with low chances for a scholarship? No thank you! Can you imagine a Master’s program in Portugal for only $5970? And with the economic downturn, housing is also relatively affordable here and available almost anywhere. I have found living here in the summers extremely doable. The prices for food, travel and fun are very fair in my opinion! As a university student in the summer, the school cafes still offer great meal deals- 4€ (about $6) at ISEG will get me some bacalhau (codfish) with a side dish, salad, flan and drink! Or, a close to $17 bus ticket can get me to the other side of Portugal to visit my family in 3.5 hours (thank goodness Portugal is so small!)
Which brings me to #2…
2. LOCATION! Location is everything for education. Here I will admit that I lied to you in the beginning of the blog, because I do have some pictures to share after all.
Do you see this amazing, splendiferous, luminous city? I am presently inside its bounds and loving every single second! Yes classes and school are important, but location means everything! The surroundings to your university are where you’ll spend more than 50% of your time! And Portugal is such a richly diverse space, all within compact borders! The culture changes part to part… North and South Portugal are different from one another, island and mainland Portugal differ immensely, and so forth… it doesn’t take more than a day long trip to be in a completely new region.
You have lush, green landscapes and strong traditions in the Northern mountain regions, crystal blue waters and gorgeous beaches in the South, the small town, “farmsy” feel of the Alentejo, the traditional and academically rich university city of Coimbra, and more!
And so much history! On the left you have the region of Douro, one of Portugal’s national treasures, where grapes are grown on cascading hillsides to be made into zesty Porto wine… in the fall, you can take a train along the river and see the hills dressed in splendid robes of gold and brown leaves! In the middle you have the beautiful city of Agueda and it’s yearly umbrella spectacle. And on the right, the hidden castle pieces from within the valley of Sintra.
Don’t forget, fun! I have two words for this part: Music… festivals! Like I said in a past post, I saw AVICII and Martin Solveig here last summer for 20 euros! Like… what?! Portuguese people love their music, so you can bet on lots of cheap and exciting shows. Not into music festivals? There is so much more to do here- attend lectures, watch sport matches, visit nearby countries, watch a live bull fight, hear some great fado with a glass of wine. Portugal is your oyster.
Affordable schooling and affordable travel? Count me IN!
3. Quality of education and mobility, academic environment… I personally feel that the Master’s and Doctorate programs here are quite challenging! University of Coimbra, for example, has some really diverse and unique Ph.D. programs that I would like to look into for the future. ISEG, my current research home, has a lot of affiliations and ties to major think tanks or research institutes in the world. Many universities here also pair up with big name universities back in the States for programs. Harvard Medical School has a research program it does with a Portuguese university, for example. For those who want to become professors in the U.S. or in other countries, a U.S. Ph.D. would probably offer more mobility. But for a Master’s to be used as a step for a future career, Portuguese universities offer great academic environments.
As for the academic environment
4. Tradition. I love Portuguese universities because they are so rich in tradition. Last year I wrote about one of my most favorite universities, Universidade de Coimbra. There, the students still use all of their robes (see previous post on the academic traje or suit), they win “fox trophies” (a scratch on one of the school’s decorative wall tiles that has a fox design on it) if they fail tests, etc.
Schools here are swimming in tradition. Given Portugal’s very Catholic past, many were once monasteries or convents so that always adds a bit of spice when you get to take your classes in a centuries old classroom with azulejo lined walls such as the one below at the Universidade de Evora…
or when you hear the local Tuna Económica playing (student orchestral groups)…
5. Global position. You’re probably thinking… global position? Da heck?
Portugal and the U.S. have a very strategic relationship as they both border the Atlantic and directly face each other. Portugal is very well situated… it’s just close enough to be Europe but not Europe at a great distance. It is literally the door to the rest of Europe. It’s not only an open doorway to Europe; is also boasts close ties with Africa and Brazil. For my Luso-American friends of Portuguese descent, claim that heritage and gain access to many other states that make up the European Union!
Plus, did you know that Portuguese is the third most widely-spoken European language?! Studying in Portugal will give you the chance to learn the language and explore the culture, economy, and history of the nearly 200 million people in the Far East, South America, Africa, and Europe who use one of the most important languages of the 21st century.
Not to mention that Portuguese people are extremely nice and accommodating! 😉
So there you have it. I advocate studying here immensely! There are so many benefits to a Portuguese university education. However, with every good thing comes the bad… so here are just a few cons to an education in Portugal.
1. There are too many beaches to visit and not enough time… I mean, come on! What kind of country has this many stunning beaches? Does Portugal just expect me to have all this free time on my hands as a hard-working and focused university student? (P.S. Three beaches here were named among the best in the WORLD! http://inteligenciaeconomica.com.pt/?p=16014) Heck yes… ☼ ☁
2. Too many good looking foreigners. With Portugal’s membership to the European Union and participation in Europe-wide ERASMUS exchange programs, there are just too many foreigners to meet here! Polish students, Hungarian students, Belgian students… too many new friends to make from other countries!
3. Peanut butter and Nutella are ridiculously expensive here. Like, close to $6! Ain’t nobody got euros for that. Plus the jars are always 1/3 of the size at home.
But seriously, if you are interested in a possible university education here, check out this fantabulous link below!
This ^ is a website created by FLAD- Fundação Luso-Americana de Desenvolvimento. On the website they have listed the top 10 reasons to study in Portugal, http://www.studyinportugal.net/pt/articles/1-quality-education/1-quality-education, along with a listing of programs in Portugal TAUGHT IN ENGLISH: http://www.studyinportugal.net/pt/articles/portuguese-university-network/portuguese-university-network37
Also, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
More posts to come on religious traditions, small towns, monuments, and more.
Beijos e abraços, meus amigos.