1. Excellent Universities
All over the country you’ll find universities with excellent track records and reputations. Just to count a few: the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa earned a place in the QS ranking of the world’s top 50 universities under 50 years old, the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP) has a world-class Masters in Management, and the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto (FAUP) has been a leading European architecture school for decades.
2. low cost of living
Portugal is by far the cheapest country in Western Europe, and Lisbon is one of the cheapest big cities of Europe. This means that if you’re on a tight budget you’re going to get by just fine here and if you’re not, you get to live really comfortably.
3. Portugal welcomes you with open arms
The Portuguese have a well-deserved reputation for being hospitable. You’ll be warmly received by the locals, and after a first meeting, it’s all hugs, kisses, food and beer. Without discriminating tourists from workers, Erasmus students or postgraduate researchers, this country looks at each visitor as a welcome guest.
4. It’s a small country, and proud of it
Do you have that one short friend who’s always telling you how great it is to be short? Well, Portugal’s that smaller friend of yours, and it keeps showing you why being a small country has its advantages. The beach is always nearby, for example – in Porto or Lisbon, you’re rarely more than 20/30 minutes away from the beach. If you get a free day from school, you can visit any city in the country for a daytrip and be back in time for school next day. Or you can get to know the country a lot better in a weekend.
5. Learn Portuguese – a global language
Even though Portugal is one of those rare countries in Europe where people actually make an effort to understand you in the street, whether you speak to them in English, Spanish or even Russian, if you study in Portugal you’ll learn your way around some basic Portuguese. If you do learn Portuguese, you’ll be speaking the world’s sixth most spoken language: this is a great CV-booster once you graduate and can help you build links with people in four different continents (South America, Europe, Africa and Asia).
6. The weather
The rain in Spain might stay mainly in the plain, but Portugal much prefers its sunshine. Most years we receive only around 90 rainy days across the country – and regions in the south of Portugal, like Alentejo and the Algarve, boast more than 300 sunny days every year.
7. The great Portuguese food
Study in Portugal, and you will never, ever go hungry… unless you’re a vegan. Most of our dishes are based on meat, fish or eggs. But, if you’re not vegan, the food here is really, really good. The meals are hot and heavy, but ‘sharing dinners’ and ‘Portuguese tapas’ are now very fashionable, so you don’t really have to leave the restaurant feeling like you’ve just been stuffed full by your grandma. Traditional Portuguese desserts are sweet, based around different combinations of egg, sugar and cinnamon, more often than not.
8. It opens up doors for your future
Everything you heard about the hard-hitting financial crisis and the record-breaking unemployment rates is true. But the truth is, if you study in Portugal there are opportunities that you gain access to over here. While you do your degree, there are hundreds of start-ups and small companies who would love to welcome you into their team. Whatever language you speak, it is a language that will be useful to these companies that are trying to grow across the world. After your degree, if you get good grades, network hard and learn Portuguese, doors will be open to you both in that local start-up scene and in larger international businesses in some of the new world’s monster economies, like Brazil and Angola.