5 months abroad

Setúbal (Photo by Nicole Potzinger)

I can still remember the day almost five months ago, when the adventure in Portugal began for me. At that time, I was standing at the airport and shed tears because it was so hard to say goodbye to home. Now I am standing at the airport again and five months have passed. Tears are flowing again. But this time because I don’t want to miss this country and this carefree time anymore.


I studied at the IPS (Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal) and attended courses in the field of pedagogy. Since I studied at the IPS in the winter semester, I attended courses in Portuguese (although I don’t speak Portuguese). Nevertheless, I was warmly welcomed by the Portuguese students and despite the language barrier I always felt part of the group. I was very happy that at least in each group there was always a student who translated into English for me. In general, I found the courses to be easy and had no problems with presentations, written work etc. All professors were also very nice to me and always tried to translate a part of the course for me.


I had the opportunity to spend 15 hours in a school with a focus on music and art. It was very exciting for me to observe how many differences there are compared to Austrian schools. This started with the organization of the class and ended with the different times. In this school the children had lessons from 9:00 – 12:15 and from 14:00 – 16:00, which was new for me. I am usually used to it from practice to leave school at 13:00 at the latest. At the beginning I always thought that it must be more strenuous for children if they are at school all day, but I found this system to be incredibly positive. In the morning the children seemed to me much more awake and energetic than children in Austrian schools and in the afternoon the concentration of the pupils did not decrease, also thanks to a long lunch break. I found it very exciting to be able to experience a completely different school day than I was used to.


Setúbal is a really cute but small place, which is located directly at the sea. There are insanely good restaurants that offer a fantastic and extensive meal for little money. I have always felt very safe and comfortable in the city. Basically, there is everything that one needs for living. Of course, there are not the usual products that one regularly buys at home, but there are good alternatives. What I love the most about this city or Portugal in general is the weather. Even in January we sat on the beach with a bright blue sky and enjoyed the sunshine. You only need a winter jacket at night or early in the morning. I had the luck to live together with a very good friend and fellow student in a big apartment. Our apartment was opposite a large park and in the middle of all the important points in Setúbal (bus station, train station, shopping centre, beach, etc.). Even though the standard of living is different from Austria, we enjoyed living here very much.


Even though it was really hard for me to leave my home at the beginning, the prouder and happier I am in retrospect to have taken this step. Even if I was sometimes homesick, I am sure that I will never regret my time here and will miss it. I had an insanely beautiful time, which really went by far too fast. I am also thankful for all the people I met during this trip and that I remember how I grew through this time and how I personally developed. Thank you, Portugal, for this wonderful time!

Author: Nicole Potzinger.

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