Why you should study in Portugal

Do you fancy going to university abroad? Do you want to go somewhere different than France or Italy? What about the small, but proud, country of Portugal? Located in the Westernmost part of mainland Europe, Portugal is abundant with great universities, a rich cultural history and, of course, a gorgeous Mediterranean climate.


Portugal has some of the oldest universities in the world with the University of Coimbra, boasting 700 years of research and teaching experience. It also has 24,000 students across eight different faculties.  Furthermore, in 2018, The Times rated 9 of Portugal’s universities as being some of the best 600 in the world.

Moreover, Porto, in Northern Portugal, boasts a university with over 31,000 students and the well-recognised research centre of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology.

And the 2017 QS World University Subject Rankings rated the University of Lisbon within the global top 100 for several subjects such as geography, engineering and art and design.

Cultural History

If you want to go to a country with a rich culture, you’ll find none richer than Portugal.  The Portuguese are extremely proud of their history.  Their colonial empire lasted for almost 600 years and stretched from South America to Oceania.

At the height of their maritime power, the Portuguese had trading posts in Macau, Goa and Nagasaki.  Furthermore, they also completed regular trade with China, Indonesia and Japan.  Fun fact! The reason why tea is so ubiquitous in Britain is because of the Portuguese.

Tea originated in China, but it wasn’t until 1515 that the Portuguese began trading with them.  And it was only in 1610 that Portuguese traders began importing it into Europe.  So, we have the Portuguese to thank for a drink that has become quintessentially British.

Thank you, Portugal.  Thank you so much.

Moreover, Portugal has always been a forerunner in the arts.  The architecture is magnificent, displaying influences from Spanish, Roman and Arabic backgrounds.  Just look at the Palace of Pena and tell me that doesn’t remind you of Arabian Nights.

Fine art flourished within the 15th century and you can admire much of this vibrant artistic tradition within the palaces, mansions and churches.

The Cost

In comparison to other Western European countries, Portugal is one of the cheapest in terms of tuition fees.  Bachelor and Masters’ programmes can cost between €950 (£835) to €1,250 (£1,098.93)

This means that a three-year Bachelor’s course could cost you under £3,000.  Considering that the average Bachelor’s course in England is closer to £27,000, this is a significant saving.

But the standard of living is cheaper too.  In student cities such as Lisbon or Porto, you could get by on 500 to 1000 euros (£400-£800) a month.  For those living in the pricier areas of London, £800 is two weeks’ rent or if they’re lucky, a month’s rent.

The Weather

Insert generic comment about the rubbish British summer, where it’s hot for a week and then rainy for three months.  Portugal has a Mediterranean climate meaning that there is sunshine galore.

In Southern Portugal, regions like the Algarve and Alentejo boasts more than 300 sunny days a year.  With highs of 25 degrees at the height of summer and lows of 16 degrees in winter, go break out the sun cream and prepare to get your tan on in sunny old Portugal.

The Student Lifestyle

And would this really be a student-targeted article if I didn’t mention Portugal’s great nightlife? There are clubs and bars galore with your EDM and every other music genre under the sun.

And don’t worry if clubbing isn’t your thing.  Get a coffee in the amazing café/creative space/book shop/eclectic, but fantastic mash-up of books, coffees and weird mechanical objects, that is the LX Factory.  Or why not stroll along one of Portugal’s award-winning beaches in the Algarve or Aveiro.

Go hiking across the stunning natural landscape of the Azores or why not visit one of Portugal’s fifteen World Unesco heritage sites.

Be prepared to loosen your belt as you enjoy the delicious Portuguese food and wine.  Bacalhau (cod fish) is a delicacy as is Bitoque (chips, fried egg and a lean-fried steak) Although word to the wise, as you may have guessed from these meat-heavy dishes, Portugal may not be the best place to go if you’re a vegan.

Wow, so we’ve covered a lot there.  Fantastic universities, a Mediterranean climate, a diverse history and a brilliant student lifestyle.  Is there anything left to say? Oh yeah, there’s just one more thing.

When you get to Portugal, do not, under any circumstances, ever call the Portuguese “Spanish.”  Just don’t do it.  Just don’t.

Originally published on Inspiring Interns

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