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5 things you think you know about Lisbon that are wrong

5 things you think you know about Lisbon that are wrong

When you first think of studying in Lisbon and doing Erasmus, a few things pop into your head. The sunny summer days, the crazy nightlife and all the people you’ll meet on this unexpected adventure. However, you might find slight misconceptions once you arrive. We don’t want to spoil it for you, but here’s a heads-up.

1. Nobody speaks English

English is not a problem for a portuguese, especially if you're an international student
Lisbon has amazing views but it’s the people you’ll meet that’ll make your student experience unforgettable.

Oh well, if you end up talking to an 80 year old lady who’s staring down from her balcony, she might not reply in English. She will certainly try to understand you and make some weird gestures that won’t help you in any possible way, but that’s about it. Jokes aside, most of the portuguese living in Lisbon, will speak very good english, especially students and young people. We don’t have a terrible accent, but you’re surely going to make fun of it.

2. We love our cod above everything else

Codfish is a must try if you're looking for a true student experience in Portugal
Cod is pretty much everywhere, but that doesn’t mean everyone likes it.

Not necessarily true. First of all, no codfish swims in Portuguese waters, we have to go all the way north to Scandinavia, to get it (surprise, surprise, the portuguese national dish is not even from Portugal). Second, Portuguese cuisine has all kinds of food, and some people don’t even like cod, it’s no sacrilege to say so. Here’s a top tip: if you study in Lisbon, try some fresh fish instead of the salty cod. You’ll taste some of the best seafood of your life for a reasonable, student-friendly price.

3. The crisis – god knows I’m miserable now.

Street art in Bairro Alto
The crisis is not haunting us but we’ll still stage a protest every once in a while

When you google Portugal, the first thing that shows up is the economic crisis. Oh wait, no, I just tried it myself and it’s actually Cristiano Ronaldo – feel free to double check. Nevertheless, the economic situation comes right up next the major football star. There’s a lot of talking and babbling about it, but if you take a look around Lisbon you’ll realise that the portuguese haven’t changed much. Lisbon is a city full of life, where people drink on the streets, talk loudly and kiss friends on the cheek. The portuguese capital is in fact fighting back the crisis with a growing startup scene, a bit like San Francisco (it’s not just the bridge). We’re not feeling sad and miserable, we’re just spending less.

4. Fado is all we listen to

Fado is emotionally intense, but not every erasmus student will enjoy it
Fado is a beautifully melancholic music genre from Portugal

Fado is very traditional, and if you actually get in a taxi in Lisbon, you’ll listen to it as it’s so popular with taxi drivers. Fado might have been a big thing a few decades ago but nowadays, the city is full of hipsters who are always looking for the least known band to listen to. In fact, Lisbon is the European city with most concerts per capita, so if you’re a music fan, welcome to paradise! We have hundreds of concerts and some great music festivals for unbelievably cheap prices.

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5.  Finding a student home, oh what a nightmare!

At Uniplaces you can find student housing with great views of Lisbon
This could easily be the view from your next student apartment in Lisbon

Not if you know where to look, pretty much like everything in life. Uniplaces is a great place to start – it’s the only place you’ll need. You can book your student accommodation in advance months before you get here, just as easy as you’re reading this post. Start searching on Uniplaces.com for flat shares, student apartments or student residences. And if you have any question just get in touch with us – we’ll be here for you!

(Photo credits in order of appearance to the users: Tablinum Carlson, Charlón, Tony Huerta, Maria Almeida, Pedro Ribeiro Simões)


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And remember! If you need to find University housing – or you know someone that does – you’ll find the student home you’re looking for on Uniplaces.com.

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