My new school for the next semester: ISCAP – Instituto Superior de Contabilidade e Administração do Porto! In English: the school for accounting and administration of Porto. ISCAP is a faculty of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto. This is the place I am going to spend a couple of hours for four days a week for the next 14 weeks, so let me explain a couple of things about this school.
The school’s communication
The first thing I noticed with this school, is that the communication wasn’t all that good (even though so far I didn’t turn out bad, more about that later!). On all my official documents it says the semester will start on the 15th of February. In emails, Facebook, the school’s welcome guide, etc. they were talking about an introduction week before the classes would start. They never named any dates for that, but I just assumed it would start the 8th of February. That is why I arrived the 3rd of February so I would have a couple of days to settle before the schedule starts.
This is what really happened: I spent one month of vacation in Porto before school really started! I thought I would have 4 days of vacation (or 11 if you include the introduction week), but I ended up having basically a whole month of vacation! The introduction week started 2 weeks later than I thought and the first week of classes were just a short introduction of 30 minutes’ maximum.
This sounds as just complaining, but it’s a combination of being awesome and a complaint. I had a great time and ended up having a lot of time to see and do things I wanted. I took surfing classes, went to the FC-Porto – Borrusia Dortmund football match, saw a lot of beautiful sunsets at the beach, am almost an insider on the party scene by now and had lots of time to spend with my new found friends! I also got time to spend with my friends that I knew before coming here. I went to a bar with my Portuguese friends I met two years ago and a couple of days later I went to a Japanese zombie movie with them, that was in town for a special filmfestival in Porto. (it won an award on the festival, so it was one of the better ones 😉 ). Another friend from home happened to be in Porto to visit a friend of hers that has been living here for about 2,5 years already, so I also had time to meet with them.
Next to all the great things this one month of vacation brought me, it also has a downside: it made me lazy. Because there is no schedule you have to stick to, you go to sleep whenever you want and wake up when you feel like it. Also, it’s quite costly. I just spended a month of vacation and I could kind of afford it, but I met some people who have a harder time to afford living and studying here, and they were not so happy with this miscommunication. So before coming here, you might want to double check the time school starts so you are not in for a surprise.
School finally started
Now that school has started, there isn’t a single bad thing I can say about ISCAP! I have great teachers that speak English very well. I have a lovely Portuguese teacher who really wants to help me to learn the language even though the level of classes is too high for me (now!). Another teacher is now trying to help me to find some internship of job in marketing for a couple of days a week, just so I can have the experience of working in another country. The International Office has specific opening hours, but in those first few weeks you are always welcome because they understand how hard it is to start in a new school with different habits and rules. Everyone is really committed, helpful and nice! Next to the ‘standard’ things, there is also a student association where you can go to if you want to play any sports in the school team. What I have been told: there are school teams for ISCAP only, and teams for The Polytechnic Institute of Porto. They usually both have international teams, but the ISCAP teams are more of a fun team and the other one is more competitive. So you have a choice in what you prefer most.
The school also has it’s own student organisation: COMAP. It’s comparable to ESN, which you might know, but more specific for this one school. For example, there is a buddy program. Before you even arrive in Porto, you have been assigned with a buddy. This buddy will help you with everything you might need: finding housing, going home from the airport, public transportation or anything else you want to know in or about Porto. What makes this buddy program better than the ESN one: you get a buddy from your own school. So he or she can also help you with school matters and you might bump into each other in school. Always nice to know some Portuguese people in your school ;).
- To see if ISCAP is a suitable school for you, you can check the website for incoming students: http://www.iscap.ipp.pt/site/php/welcome.php
- For more information about COMAP: http://www.comap-portugal.com/about-us/. They will help you with everything you need. After I met the people behind this organization, I bet they will even help you when you are not going to ISCAP but a different school. These people are really committed and nice!