In case you missed it, USAC has launched a brand-new Partnership Program in Lisbon, Portugal! That’s right, your study abroad dreams are coming true! But if you’re not quite convinced that Lisbon is the right place for you, we’ve got five reasons (among a million others) to help you make your decision.
Reason 1: The Location Is to Die For
Portugal is sandwiched between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, giving you access to easy beachside living while being close to the rest of Europe, so you will definitely check some destinations off your travel bucket list (Lisbon is roughly an hour from Madrid by plane, for example.). Lisbon is the biggest city in the country, one of the oldest cities in the world, and one of the least visited European capitals. That means you’ll be living in the best of both worlds: all of the amenities and excitement of a capital city with the affordability and authenticity of a location off the tourist path. The city of Lisbon was built on seven hills — Castelo, Graca, Monte, Penha de Franca, S.Pedro de Alcantara, Santa Catarina and Estrela — each neighborhood offering special cafes, restaurants, shops, and more to keep you entertained all semester (or year) long.
Reason 2: The University is Top-Notch
Yes, it’s true, when you choose to study abroad will be dedicating quite a bit of time to actually studying (that’s kind of the whole point, right?). The good news for you is that Universidade Catolica Portuguesa’s (UCP), the host university for USAC Lisbon, is one of the top universities in the country. At UPC, you’ll have the opportunity to take courses in a wide range of topics, including Portuguese language & culture, business, humanities, and social sciences. Fall 2021 students will also have the chance to take courses in politics, philosophy, and economics. Even better, as a USAC student, you’ll be invited to participate in student activities, clubs, and events, and you’ll have access to campus facilities like dining and computer labs.
Reason 3: The City is Full of Landmarks
Being one of the least visited capital cities in Europe, Lisbon is chalk full of hidden gems to explore. These landmarks and monuments transport you into Lisbon’s past and give you a taste of Portuguese culture and history. Some example of these must-visit landmarks includes:
- The Vasco da Gama Bridge: the longest bridge in Europe, which connects Lisbon to Montijo across the Tagus river, is a whopping 11 miles long.
- Belém Tower: this tower was built between 1514 and 1520 to defend Lisbon. Today, it is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stands a symbol of Lisbon. Its architecture is a beautiful example of Portuguese style. The western façade even has a watchman looking over – a gargoyle in the shape of a rhinoceros.
- Lisbon Cathedral: the oldest and most important church in the city. The construction of the Lisbon Cathedral dates back to the twelfth century, and the church has survived seven natural disasters. Inside you’ll find a treasury which holds suits, jewels, and relics from various periods in Lisbon history.
Reason 4: The Locals Can’t Wait to Meet You
When in Rome, do as the Romans do… Or rather, when in Portugal, immerse in the Portuguese culture as much as possible! Whether you study abroad in Lisbon for a semester or a full academic year, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to meet locals and make yourself at home in the city. For starters, USAC students will live in housing with local and international students in downtown Lisbon. There’s no better way to get to know locals than over a homecooked meal in your housing!
Additionally, USAC students have access to all amenities and activities on campus. UPC’s Global Education Office (GEO) organizes field trips and activities for students throughout the year alongside annual festivals and holiday celebrations. You’re also encouraged to join clubs, student organizations, and intramural sports to get connected with your host university and meet local students.
Reason 5: The Culture Is Unlike Any Other
One of the biggest reasons students choose to study abroad is to immerse in a culture unlike their own. Portugal has a rich culture, and in recent decades, the country has undergone a renaissance in the arts. In fact, Lisbon has been designated European Capitals of Culture, along with two other cities in the country. Portuguese culture heavily values art, music, cuisine, and sports (most popularly, “futebol.”).
Café culture is big in Lisbon, as well. Locals can be found sipping coffee in their favorite café at all hours of the day, watching futebol on TV, catching up with close friends, or enjoying pasteis de nata, a traditional Portuguese pastry. If you want to “do as the Romans do,” set up shop at a café with some classmates to people watch and immerse with the locals.
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