So, I have arrived in my apartment in Porto and settled in my room. Now it’s time for the next step: I have to get to know the city of Porto, and maybe more important, meeting people. I came here ‘alone’, so I have to get to know more people and make new friends!
I am lucky in this city because I already know some people from Porto. When I went on an Erasmus program for two weeks in Lithuania there were also five students from Porto. So on my second day here I met one of those friends and she told me a lot about living in this city. Of course I also met my roommates. Only two of the four roommates were here then, but luckily one of them was here already for the first semester. She showed me how to get to the supermarket, grocery store, etc.
Getting ‘paperwork done’
On the first day here (the day I arrived I don’t count, since I unpacked and went to sleep..) I took a walk in the city and tried to get some ‘paperwork’ done, like getting a Portuguese sim card, a monthly metro pass, ESN card and open a bank account. While trying to find the places to do all of this, I didn’t have any internet to use gps, so I had to use a map. I don’t know how many times I got lost, but it was definitely a lot of times. Which was great! Even if you have internet or gps on your first day: don’t use it! During all the times I got lost I got to see a lot of great things and many of Porto’s highlights which helped me recognize places for the next couple of weeks!
By the end of the day I only managed to get the ESN card and sim card. The metro pass was not very expensive for a month, but with student discount it was much cheaper and I had to wait for some papers from my new school to get the discount. By trying to open the bank account I found out that in Portugal there is also a lot of bureaucracy. At the ESN office they told me to just go to the bank, at the bank they told me to go to some office to get a tax number, and then they told me to first go get another paper at another office. So eventually now, I still don’t have the bank account.. So prepare to go to a lot of places for nothing, it’s normal.
Portuguese politeness and friendliness
After a day of walking I saw in the Facebook group ‘ISCAP Incoming Students SS 2015-2016’ that everyone was meeting at a bar that evening. This Facebook group is made by the school and every Erasmus student and Portuguese student who is involved in the Erasmus program in ISCAP from this semester is in it. So I was pretty sure more people were there ‘alone’, so I decided to go there alone. Luckily there was a Portuguese who was living nearby me, so I could come with him and wouldn’t have to walk there alone in the middle of the night!
This is some real Portuguese politeness that I have seen here now a lot of times: they will really help people they don’t even know. In this case it’s someone picking me up who doesn’t know me, but for another example is that when you ask where you need to go and you don’t understand, the person will walk you there. I have found that Portuguese really take time to help you, no matter what they are doing!
Meeting new friends
Going back to the bar that evening: this evening I met some really great people and my now new friends from Finland and Portugal! It was so easy to talk to everyone and I had a great time. The most important thing is to not be shy. Everyone feels kind of the same and is interested in new people. So don’t be afraid to say ‘hi!’ and ask ‘where are you from?’. By just saying this you can easily start a whole conversation just based on what you know about each others country’s (or the fact that you know ábsolutely nothing about it 😉 ), and you will quickly end up talking about a lot of things.
My most important tip for everyone going abroad with or without a friend from home:
Go out, don’t be afraid to go alone and don’t be shy!
I think it will never be more easy to make friends as on the first days of your arrival!
In conclusion the most important things and places for your first week in Porto:
- Main bars for Erasmus: Adega, Piolho and 77
- Main clubs for Erasmus: Porto Tónico, Plano B and Villa Porto
- ESN Card: at ESN office in Universidade do Porto (mon-fri 15:00-19:00)
- WTF sim card: at the ESN office
- Bank: Novo banco (they have a partnership with ESN)
- Monthly metro/bus card: at the main metrostations (Campanha, Trindade, Hospital Sao Joao). Usually you need 2 zones, which is around €20 per month. Every zone extra will be around €6 more.