Article written by Jane Nduta Wambura.
Several people ask me why I chose Porto for my study period abroad. My answer? Porto chose me and I am so glad that it did! When I first sought to study abroad on my Erasmus Mundus programme, I did not know much about Portugal, let alone the city of Porto. Encompassed with excitement and optimism, when I received my Master’s scholarship, I packed my bags and began a 6562 Kilometer journey from Nairobi, Kenya to what has become my irresistible second home, Porto. Located in the Northern of Portugal, Porto is one of the most vintage European centers, rich in historical sites that leave you amazed every day.
I have been here for one year now and would like to give you a reason to pack your bags just like I did and be awestruck by this second biggest city in Portugal! Here are a few reasons why Porto is the best city to study in Europe:
1. Porto’s authenticity
The first thing you notice when you land in Porto are the amazing authentic buildings and narrow walk ways that make you feel as if you just jumped over 100 years in history! Each corner you look amazes you with the colorful tiles. Suddenly you can go uphill and downhill tirelessly just to glimpse of the history daily! Such an environment makes learning easy since you always have inspiration even when you are miles away from home.
2. The warm character of Porto locals
With the historical welcome, the people in Porto match the environment with their genuinely warm heart. It is difficult for you not to hear Bom Dia! Boa tarde or Boa noite from a total stranger as is the formal greeting of the Portuguese depending on the time of day! In fact, it is considered rude not to greet someone on the streets. When I first arrived, and was looking for directions, I remember stopping a passerby to ask for directions, she stopped immediately and paid attention and directed me even though she could not communicate in proper English. Such an environment makes studying easier because the people in Porto love to have fun, socialize and make every single element of learning, a fun activity!
3. University of Porto was the inspiration for the Harry Potter series
Immediately you walk into the university, you realize the great JK Rawlings influence of the University of Porto! Yes, you heard right! JK Rawlings got her inspiration to write the renowned Harry Porter series from the city of Porto. A library known as Livraria lello is one of the second-best libraries in the world, and guess what? It is in the city of Porto! Students in the University dress in black Harry Porter attires to celebrate the Hogwarts theme in a holiday known as Quiema das Fitas. During the celebration, students sing to remember JK Rawlings work! Now imagine studying in such an environment. Isn’t it cool?
4. Enjoy affordable living costs
Almost everything is affordable in Porto, making it the best destination for a student budget! You can comfortably live on about 500 EUR per month. There are several websites that offer you information about:
- How to choose an apartment- Porto is one of the easiest places to choose an apartment. If you are an Erasmus student, the International Office assists you in getting an apartment. You can contact them before you arrive in Porto. Be careful when looking for an apartment online because some people may trick you. I recommend this site. Check to see if a landlord charges to view the apartment beforehand to avoid hidden costs.
- Mobile Phone- I would recommend to subscribe to the NOS network that offers an affordable rate of about 10 EUR per month for unlimited use of apps, and reasonable calling rates. There are other networks that are also affordable such as MEO and Vodafone for mobile networks, and can be useful when choosing an internet provider for your apartment.
- Transport in Porto is also affordable. There are 2 Andante cards which you can choose from. The blue card is normally a temporary card, for which you can buy a one-hour trip journey that costs only 1.20 EUR on all means of transport including the buses and metro. I recommend the gold card especially if you are staying in Porto for long because it only goes for an average of 30 EUR per month and is discounted for students.
5. Have a fantastic leisure time
Porto has several places to visit, shop, eat and experience the famous port wines all depending on your preference. The most famous street is the via Catarina shopping street and other malls that are easily accessible by all means of transport. More information can be found here!
6. Porto gives you a great chance to learn a new language
Portuguese is the 6th most spoken language in the world! Living among the Portuguese almost automatically causes you to speak their language. When I arrived, I barely knew the language, but found some very interesting classes which have helped me learn the language in a multicultural environment! I can now speak Portuguese at least to ask for food and make simple conversations with my peers. I am still learning and am determined to speak fluently by the time I leave. You can learn Portuguese in exchange of another here!
Are you hooked yet? Good. Pack your bags and see you in Porto!