Study Abroad in Porto

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A Guide to Studying Abroad in Porto

The birthplace of Port wine, Porto is so much more than just a syrupy liquid dessert capital of the world. In this oceanfront city, the water provides a wellspring of industry, and you’ll see how the climate, local economy, and location benefit your learning as you study your chosen field in Porto, Portugal. Enjoying the amazing seafood and touring centuries-old wineries will be just two of the many ways you can take study breaks from your educational experience here!

What you need to know to study abroad in Porto, Portugal

Portugal, a thriving nation that once ranged widely throughout the world, is still a nexus of European commerce and ideas — there’s no better place to diversify your learning than Porto, where the ships (and new concepts!) enter the country.

Popular subjects to study.  Health Sciences is one of the most chosen when studying in Porto, followed by Technology and Business, which come up high on the list for students interested in studying in universities in particular. At the same time, the local architecture and history are excellent topics to cover in your program specifically because of the local access to examples of important moments in European history as well as beautiful designs in the buildings that line the rua, or streets. Just taking a stroll can turn into a lesson by the banks of the Douro river.

Short term and summer programs vs. long term programs. Selecting a longer course of study in Porto, like a year long or semester long program,  gives you a chance to really dive into the language and culture of the place while also noticing how modern Portugal is experiencing technological, business, and scientific growth. Selecting a short-term program, on the other hand, can allow you to package an affordable part of your education into what might be a longer course of study in other cities and countries, or to fit it in between terms at your home institution.

Attending universities vs. other program type. While studying in Porto, you will find a variety of courses and degrees offered in a traditional university setting at University Fernando Pessoa, many of which are taught in English. At the same time, low-cost programs that operate through institutes of education around the city offer the chance to dive deep into studies.  These programs also allow the local culture to teach you in areas that are even outside some of the more traditional disciplines in college.

Life in Porto, Portugal for International Students

Porto’s tourist appeal means that many, though certainly not all, of the people you will meet will speak some English in addition to Portuguese, but you will notice that there is a friendly warmth to Porto’s occupants that transcends language. If you do want to study Portuguese in Porto, you will soon realize that despite Portugal’s small size, this language is spoken by many people around the world.

When searching for housing, consider a homestay, especially if you want to get better at the subtleties of the language. The day-to-day life of a household can show you more about the society, especially when you need to be home hitting the books most of the time. You can also find an apartment to share with fellow students, and some programs even provide assistance in this regard. 

You’ll find that the available public transit, from trains to Lisbon and Sintra to metro and bus for around town, make traveling inside and outside the city quite simple; most modern map software can even give you the routes you need if you are a little directionally challenged. You’ll never lack for a method to get from your lodging to class before your professor marks you late!

GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop for study abroad students in Porto

Even if they aren’t known to you yet, make sure that you find yourself some of the delectable egg tarts and pao de queijo (cheese bread!) which are common treats and breakfast items in the bakeries of Porto. You’ll easily burn all those calories with the hilly cobblestone streets that you hike through in search of the many beautiful locations of the city, including places like Livreria Lello, one of the world’s most ornate bookstores with magnificent, almost fantastical, architecture. You might even find one of your course texts on the shelves there!

Portugal is known for being affordable, so it is a wonderful place to try the dining options to the fullest; you don’t need to find a fancy white tablecloth to get a world-class meal here. Make sure, though, that you aren’t in much of a hurry: dining in the Iberian peninsula is slow and savored. In general, that’s not a bad piece of advice to consider: in a city that has survived this many centuries, you may find that people are more likely to take a break and pay attention to their lives than to rush from event to event. 

Many discover that Porto is just the first step for them; from Porto, it is easy to make a quick trips to get tastes of other Portuguese cities. While you study abroad in Porto, however, make sure to take in the full experience, like a mouthful of jammy and dark Port wine.

Want more to sip on? Read our comprehensive guide on studying in Portugal.

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A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Porto


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