I am a student who was living, studying and working in Utrecht, Netherlands for three years. In the beginning of February 2016 I moved to Porto, Portugal, to go on Erasmus and continue my study there for half a year at the Polytechnic Institute of Porto at the ISCAP faculty. With this blog I want to give other future Erasmus who want to go to Porto an insight in my experiences in the first weeks. I hope it will help others to be better informed about their destination and that I can make the first weeks more easy to ‘survive’ and they will feel at home in their new city just as fast as I did.
Finding my way to my new home in Porto
I arrived at the airport of Porto on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon around half past three. It was amazing and scary at the same time to know that this is where I am going to be for the next 5 months. I was excited, because I knew I was going to have a great time with lot of new adventures, experiences and friends. At the same time I was all by myself, afraid of what to do next. I decided to not care at that moment: I was moving to Porto for real!
After my arrival I wanted to take a metro to my new house. At the exit of the airport there was the metro station very easy to be found. When I came there I needed to buy a ticket. Of course, I had no idea how and what kind of ticket to buy. Luckily I found already out in my first minutes in Porto that Portuguese are very helpful and will not stop until your problem is solved, even though it takes long and they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Portuguese.
After a couple of minutes, we figured out which metro station I needed to go to and I got the right ticket: on my way to my to the home for the next 5 months!
During the 45 minutes trip in the metro I was talking difficult to a very kind Portuguese who I spoke with in a little bit of English and French (since both of us was only good in one of the languages). I managed to explain that I just arrived here for my studies, and he did his very best to explain me things about the city that I needed to know. Of course it was mainly touristic stuff that I already used Google for, but I am so amazed by the kindness of the Portuguese man trying his best for me without even asking. Everyday I experience this kind of kindness again, everywhere and anytime.
After arriving at the right metro stop I had to walk home for about 10 minutes (as Google told me) with my two suitcases and backpack. I knew it was only ten minutes, so I thought it would be fine. The one important thing I forgot about this, is that I was in Porto, not my totally flat city Utrecht. So I think it took me about half an hour and multiple breaks, because I had to climb quite steep. So, my suggestion if you move to Porto alone, don’t take the metro and take a taxi! It’s worth the 15 euros!
Coming home in Porto
When I FINALLY arrived in my apartment I was very happy. I met my new Italian roommate and saw that it is a very comfortable and fully equipped house, except for one (for me very important) thing: there is no heating. Even though it was a beautiful and sunny day, it was only 12 degrees outside. And winter. So it was cold. Really really cold. The next three days, if I wasn’t out, I spend my days in bed, since it was so cold in the house even clothes couldn’t help anymore for the whole day.
I think this was my first question when I met a Portuguese guy (after asking his name of course!): why don’t Portuguese houses have heating?!
Well, the reason still isn’t very clear to me. His answer was (and other answered the same since I thought it could not be the reason): “in summer it’s really warm and you definitely don’t want heating.” It makes me wonder if they never think about winter when they build houses? Or they don’t care about the humid air and the mould that grows perfectly with it? Also the Portuguese seem to be always cold these days, so it can’t be that they are adjusted to this cold.. So this is my first quest here: get an answer that actually makes sense about why there is no heating in Porto. And of course find out about all the other cultural differences between The Netherlands and Portugal, which I will write about in my future blogposts.