My Erasmus experience in Porto included a lot of laughing, funny and confusing experiences, but there was also some frustrating moments.
New friends, great food, cheap restaurants and delicious Port Wine. Great parties, where you dance all night, while you are singing Spanish songs, without any idea what you are actually saying or singing. Traveling to different cities and seeing amazing places. These things gave some unforgettable memories to me!
In Portugal people are more open, there is a lot of hugging and kissing to the cheeks and everything is “Que lindo!”. People love children and they won’t hide their feelings! But making plans and having schedules in Portugal (and Spain), is quite impossible.
You must be prepared, that plans can be changed in the last minutes and people will be late and things aren’t very well organized always.. Cultural differences are great, but I also learned that sometimes having those in everyday life can be a little bit tiring, so please be patient. :’)
I spent a lot of hours at hospital, sometimes doing quite long shifts.
I did my practical training in “Centro Hospitalar São João” which is the biggest hospital in northern Portugal. My expectations of Portuguese hospitals were not very high, so I wasn’t surprised that for example hygienic and aseptic things weren’t in so good level as in Finland.
New parts of the hospital were quite modern. I appreciate the Portuguese nurses’ dedication to their work.
Among the mentor nurses, in general, attitudes towards Erasmus students were quite good.
It was quite a surprise that many people in Portugal really couldn’t speak English at all, especially the older persons. So, there you must use the power of non-verbal communication, just be creative! If you are polite people are always ready to help you. 🙂
At the hospital, language barrier caused very funny situations, but also some problems. I was very lucky that I worked with a Spanish exchange student, who spoke English. I got a very good friend from her.
All in all, I learned a lot of things and I have seen that things can be done in many different ways!
Almost four months I was very into the real Portuguese culture, because I had an amazingly friendly and warm-hearted land lady. Living with the locals gave a very realistic perspective to Portuguese culture. Also having Spanish friends, just proved, that I really love these two cultures.
I was warned that Portugal may steal a piece from my heart. And yes, it stole..:) I can’t wait to go back there and explore the country even more!