Erasmus+ in Portugal: beach, sun and delicious Francesinhas!


Ana Ormeño is a Spanish student who decided to do her Erasmus+ mobility program in Faro, Portugal. Read the interview to know a bit more about Portuguese food and culture (even their weirdest habits) and what an amazing experience the Erasmus+ could be.

Q: Hello, Ana, welcome! First things first: can you briefly introduce yourself?

A: Hello! Yes, of course, my name is Ana, I’m 22 years old, I’m from Porzuna (a small village near Ciudad Real) but I’m currently living in Jaén. I’ve studied Social Education but right now I’m starting a Master in Law of Criminal Justice and the Prisional system.

Q: Why have you decided to go on an Erasmus+ experience at first place?

A: Well, the truth is that it all started in one of my 2nd grade classes, a teacher informed us about the possibility of studying abroad and the advantages that this would entail for me in the future. I started to attend the informative talks at the university, and I thought “come on, nothing happens for signing up, there are also a lot of people and they probably won’t even catch me.” It was clear to me that I would like to travel to Portugal, we have always looked at our neighbouring country with a certain superiority and it is not one of the favourite European destinations, but to judge I needed to know it. I thought that I would finally be left without a place due to the number of people who were with higher grades than me and although it was something that I thought before, every time I got sadder because I saw that I was really going to be excluded. My name arrives and there is a square in Rome and another in Faro. I was full of illusion because not only had I taken a place but it was in Portugal and in the place that I wanted (the truth I thought of Porto too but it was only 5 months, then they also offered Coimbra and Lisbon), but Faro was in the south and  I really prefer southern places.

Let’s say that I did not exactly decide to do Erasmus, but rather that I was involved in a “let’s see what happens now …” and I was creating expectations, illusions and dreams that I would undoubtedly repeat again, it is difficult to define what an Erasmus experience is to someone who hasn’t been, but if I had to define it it would be “the best experience of my life”, without a doubt. This is to the point that before ending my stay, I promised that I would return to Portugal to live at some point in my life! I believe that Portugal is the great unknown, it is impossible to remember every moment and not feel saudades.

Q: Very good! So, tell us, in which Portuguese city have you done your Erasmus, when have you done it and how long have you stayed?

A: I’ve been in Erasmus two years ago in Faro, Algarve and I stayed the whole year. I absolutely fell in love!

Q: And can you tell us a little bit of your experience in Portugal, if you liked the country, the people and well, Portuguese culture in general?

A: Well, to start, it wasn’t by accident that I ended up going to Portugal, I wanted to and I was very excited about it. But I was a bit shocked in the beginning with the differences between the two countries because of the general idea that Spain and Portugal are very much alike. And that goes for the language as well: reading in Portuguese was easy, but understanding Portuguese people talking was a real challenge, especially in the supermarket where some people couldn’t speak Spanish at all, so I had no way of communicating. In general I was very fond of the people, but, of course, there were some people who saw that I was Spanish and were very nice and welcoming and others who were a bit ruder, so it was kind of a love-hate relationship. But I really enjoyed the environment of the city even though Faro is a different city throughout the seasons: during summer it has lots of people and tourists and animation, which I loved, but during winter it gets lonely and sadder.

Q: What do you think of the way classes are held in Portugal and the teaching methods? Did you like the academic part of your Erasmus and your University?

A: It’s very different from Spain. In Portugal everything is more practical and here in Spain it’s much more theoretical. For instance, for one course of Artistic Expressions we had to paint, to do group dynamics in the streets and I truly loved it. Another thing which is different is that in Portugal grades go from 0 to 20 and here in Spain from 0 to 10 and that was a bit strange for me.

Q: Speaking of strange things: which was the strangest thing from the Portuguese culture to you?

A: That the Portuguese people eat lunch at 12h30! On my first day I want to a restaurant at 15h00 to eat something and I was told that the restaurant was already closed, and it was the weirdest thing. Also, when I used to went out on the afternoon with my Portuguese friends for a beer they would always order a coffee… in the afternoon!!

Q: Yes, those are very typical Portuguese customs! And what about travelling? Have you travelled to other Portuguese cities during Erasmus?

A: Yes, we got to know the whole Algarve, because we rented a car, so we travelled everywhere in the region, Sagres, Albufeira, Lagos… I also went to Oporto, I loved the “Harry Potter Bookshop” (Livraria Lello) and to Lisbon. I didn’t have time to visit much more… And, by the way, I prefer Oporto to Lisbon!

Q: And what about the food? Which Portuguese plates did you like the most? Have you tried Francesinha or bacalhau?

A: I absolutely loved Francesinha! It’s so good. I’m already hungry just to think of it! One weird thing of the Portuguese dishes is that everything comes with rice: chicken with rice, etc. And the bacalhau, well, it was good but I personally don’t like fish that much. But I loved also the sweets, especially the one you can eat in the beach, Bola de Berlim!

Q: So, the last question: would you recommend your Erasmus+ Experience in Portugal to other people or friends?

A: Yes, of course! I loved Portugal, for me it was a big positive surprise, maybe it’s a country that it’s not given much attention by Spanish people but really, for me it was amazing. And Faro particularly, especially with its fantastic beaches!

Q: Very well, thank you Ana for your time and for telling us a bit for your Erasmus Experience!

A: Thank you!

Interview by Carolina Ramon de Fonseca

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