Portugal features an excellent climate and a diversity of landscapes from green mountains to miles of beaches dotted with royal castles where Portuguese kings spent their summers. Lisbon also has a rich and colorful seafaring heritage. Discover the old-fashioned charm of its cobblestone streets and quaint museums, and the lively nightlife of its clubs and restaurants.



Languages Spoken:

Portuguese

Education System

There are numerous public and private universities in Portugal as well as many polytechnic institutes.

The university system has a strong theoretical basis and is highly research-oriented while the polytechnic system provides a more practical training and is profession-oriented. Grading is usually on a 20 point scale - 20 being Excellent and 0 considered failing. 10 is usually marked as the pass-fail point. Many classes follow a lecture style of teaching and are less discussion based. However, some lab courses offer a great amount of interaction with the professor.

University Life
Portuguese students are admitted to a determined major at the time they enter the university and must follow a specific curriculum for each year. As an ISEP participant, however, you will be able to take courses from different faculties and at different levels. Nevertheless, you should seek to take courses in one faculty if at all possible. Typically, the layout of Portuguese universities is decentralized and faculties are located throughout the city. If you enroll in courses in different faculties, you may find that you have to cross town to go from one class to another. One word of caution: make sure that you have sufficient background for a course in which you register, especially if it is a required course for a third-, fourth- or fifth-year student.

Coursework
Depending on the type of classes you take, you will generally have tests and papers with a final exam at the end of the course. Form and organization are important in presenting written work. Check with a Portuguese student about correct form so that your assignments will be properly presented. Make sure that your grammar and sentence structure are correct; have a native speaker check it over if necessary.

You should have access to computers at the university to complete your assignments. Commonly, each faculty or center has its own computer lab for student use. During busier times of year, it is likely that you will need to reserve a computer ahead of time.

Exams are typically given at the end of the semester and will include materials covered in class throughout the semester. It is important to keep up with your coursework, as it's difficult to "cram" a semester's worth of studying into the period before the exam. Exams may be oral or written. The format for exams will vary from class to class.

The academic year runs from September to early June with exams offered in February for the first-term courses and finals in late June and July for year-long (annual) and second-term courses, which test cumulative knowledge of the entire course.

Visa and Residency

General Information
You must obtain a student visa prior to departing for Portugal. As soon as you accept placement, you should start the process for obtaining your visa.

Requirements for student visas may vary by consulate. Please contact the nearest Portuguese consulate for information on what documentation you may require to enter Portugal. For a list of consulates see the Important Links section.

Many consulates require an FBI background check as a part of the visa application. As FBI background checks can take up to 12 weeks to obtain. It is strongly advised that students contact their local consulate to verify the requirement as soon as possible. For more information regarding FBI background checks please visit this link.

Visa Application
Below is a list of documents typically required for a student visa application, obtained from the Embassy of Portugal’s website. Please be sure to double check for additional requirements and contact your local consulate for the most updated visa forms.

  • Visa application form typed or filled completely and legibly and signed. If applying by mail, signature must be notarized.
  • A recent color photograph must accompany each application form.
  • Certified copies of passport or official travel document valid for at least 3 months beyond date of intended stay in Portugal. The original document must be submitted once visa is approved.
  • Documents confirming enrollment, stating  type and length of courses to be taken in Portugal,
  • Confirmed Accommodation: from the inviting institution if on campus or confirmed hotel reservations, stating name, address and telephone number of the hotel, including confirmation number.
  • Proof of financial support,  while in Portugal (usually this is in the form of a bank statement, check consulate for requirements);
  • Criminal Record Certificate (for applicants older than 15), issued by the FBI;
  • Proof of medical insurance valid for Portugal.
  • Payment of any applicable consular fees

You will also need to submit a postage paid return envelope for your passport and visa to be returned to you. It is advisable to use a mail service with a tracking feature.

A Note Regarding the Schengen Area
Portugal is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

Important Links
Embassy of Portugal in the US
FBI Background Checks

Culture

Cultural Adjustment
At first, you might be tempted to cling to other international students. While it is comforting to depend on other foreigners as friends, you will limit your Portuguese experience. Try to make a sincere effort to meet and get to know Portuguese people. You will find that people are genuinely warm.

One way to get to know Portuguese people is to arrange an intercambio in which you exchange one hour of Portuguese conversation for one hour of English conversation. Many students in Portuguese wish to improve their English and are eager to participate in such exchanges. Even if your Portuguese does not need the practice, it is a good way to meet and get to make a Portuguese friend.

Campus life also provides numerous opportunities to meet other people. Low-priced movies are shown on campus by different student groups. A variety of activities such as lectures, debates, sports activities, concerts and group outings are also often arranged for the students

Family
The Portuguese usually live at home until they get married, so many of your Portuguese friends will still be living at home. The Portuguese highly value family, which you will notice at large family gatherings and dinners. People generally don't move far from the town or city where they grow up and typically stay close to an extended family network throughout their whole life.

Gender roles
It is common now to see both husband and wife working during the day. However, it is a cultural norm that the woman is the dona da casa and usually undertakes all the duties of the house.

Some women may receive some appreciative whistles and comments from men. Usually, these signs of appreciation are harmless and are best ignored. Dressing more conservatively is a practical way of minimizing unsolicited comments.
Greetings
Typically, Portuguese friends, greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. A handshake is appropriate for professional introductions. It is important to establish eye contact to avoid suspicion and gain trust. Portuguese will often begin a conversation by asking about your wellbeing or relatives. It may be considered rude to go straight to the point of a conversation without first easing in to the topic.

Space and distance
The Portuguese are less conscious of personal space. They stand and speak closely. Oftentimes, people may place a hand on your back or around your waist while moving by and saying "com licença," or excuse me. This is not meant to be orderly.

Sports
Without a doubt, the most popular sport in Portugal is soccer. Each town has its own team and playing field, but the main rivals are Benfica (Lisbon), Sporting (Lisbon, and FC Porto. Soccer is a national obsession and to truly understand Portuguese culture one must cheer along for their favorite team. Other popular sports include sailing, tennis, and golf. Due to the moderate climate, the Portuguese are a very outdoor oriented people.

Time
Portuguese culture may not stress punctuality in the same way as other cultures may. However, you should be punctual for class and professional situations.

Religion and Values
Close to 95% of Portuguese people are Catholic, with about 50% of that group attending church services at least monthly. Portuguese value their family greatly, including their extended family in their tightly knit circles.

Daily Life

Cultural Adjustment
At first, you might be tempted to cling to other international students. While it is comforting to depend on other foreigners as friends, you will limit your Portuguese experience. Try to make a sincere effort to meet and get to know Portuguese people. You will find that people are genuinely warm.

One way to get to know Portuguese people is to arrange an intercambio in which you exchange one hour of Portuguese conversation for one hour of English conversation. Many students in Portuguese wish to improve their English and are eager to participate in such exchanges. Even if your Portuguese does not need the practice, it is a good way to meet and get to make a Portuguese friend.

Campus life also provides numerous opportunities to meet other people. Low-priced movies are shown on campus by different student groups. A variety of activities such as lectures, debates, sports activities, concerts and group outings are also often arranged for the students

Family
The Portuguese usually live at home until they get married, so many of your Portuguese friends will still be living at home. The Portuguese highly value family, which you will notice at large family gatherings and dinners. People generally don't move far from the town or city where they grow up and typically stay close to an extended family network throughout their whole life.

Gender roles
It is common now to see both husband and wife working during the day. However, it is a cultural norm that the woman is the dona da casa and usually undertakes all the duties of the house.

Some women may receive some appreciative whistles and comments from men. Usually, these signs of appreciation are harmless and are best ignored. Dressing more conservatively is a practical way of minimizing unsolicited comments.
Greetings
Typically, Portuguese friends, greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. A handshake is appropriate for professional introductions. It is important to establish eye contact to avoid suspicion and gain trust. Portuguese will often begin a conversation by asking about your wellbeing or relatives. It may be considered rude to go straight to the point of a conversation without first easing in to the topic.

Space and distance
The Portuguese are less conscious of personal space. They stand and speak closely. Oftentimes, people may place a hand on your back or around your waist while moving by and saying "com licença," or excuse me. This is not meant to be orderly.

Sports
Without a doubt, the most popular sport in Portugal is soccer. Each town has its own team and playing field, but the main rivals are Benfica (Lisbon), Sporting (Lisbon, and FC Porto. Soccer is a national obsession and to truly understand Portuguese culture one must cheer along for their favorite team. Other popular sports include sailing, tennis, and golf. Due to the moderate climate, the Portuguese are a very outdoor oriented people.

Time
Portuguese culture may not stress punctuality in the same way as other cultures may. However, you should be punctual for class and professional situations.

Religion and Values
Close to 95% of Portuguese people are Catholic, with about 50% of that group attending church services at least monthly. Portuguese value their family greatly, including their extended family in their tightly knit circles.

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

Currency

Portugal operates with the Euro. Current exchange rates can be found here .

Banking
Banking hours are from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. The main Portuguese banks are Banco Expirito Santo, Caixa Geral de Depositos, and Millennium-BCP. Most restaurants, hotels, and gas stations throughout Portugal accept major credit cards. ATM cards can be used for cash withdrawals in any of the thousands of ATMs available throughout Portugal provided that the logo on the back of the card matches the logo on the ATM machine. Traveler's checks in U.S. dollars should be exchanged in banks or exchange offices as they are not always widely accepted.

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