Here’s some tips for next the person, who’s going to do exchange in Portugal. Perhaps in Braga!
Weather: Note, that in northern Portugal it is raining quite a lot during winter. Prepare yourself with water-proof –clothes. I didn’t manage to find waterproof-trousers during my stay there. Take those from Finland. Instead you could drop some party-clothes away. You could easily find those from Braga. And shoes as well. But, take really comfortable shoes with you. Most of the streets there are very slippery when it rains. Summer and autumn time is very sunny and hot!! In early autumn, there is rarely rain and temperature can be around 35 degrees. At least when I took my language course in a local university, classrooms didn’t were air-conditioned. I can say it was really hot!
Housing: Isave has a dormitory, but it is not located in Braga. It is located near their university, what is located around 15km from Braga. At least my practices were in Braga, so it would have been difficult to travel every day from there. During my language course, people searched announcements from streets. It was easy to find apartment, if you spoke Spanish or something roman-language. For me, it was not so easy. People didn’t spoke English so well, so I had to ask my room-mate to call people. I managed to find a room, from an apartment. Apartment was not luxurious, far from it. For me, it was only place to sleep. Rent was 150 € /month and it included electricity, gas and water. It is really common, that people rent apartments/rooms without contract. My room was located right behind of big shopping mall and near the hospital. When you live in Portugal during winter time, houses are really cold. I had to sleep my nights wearing wool socks and thermal underwear and still I was freezing. And when I moved to my room in middle of September, I thought I could survive without real quilt. Yeah right, I went to Primark in October and bought one quit.
Language: Study Portuguese or Spanish beforehand. It will be much easier for you to survive from practices. Spanish is very similar than Portuguese. It is like Norwegian and Swedish. For me, EILC-languagecourse helped a lot, but it was not enough.
City: Braga is 3rd biggest city in Portugal. It is almost same size than Jyväskylä, according to Wikipedia (yes, very reliable source!) a bit bigger. It is really old city, lot of history from the Roman Empire and churches in almost every corner. Buildings vary from shack-houses to luxury-houses, everything can be found. City itself is quite safe, but there are some neighborhoods that would be safe to avoid. Robberies happen sometimes, but use a common sense. Traffic is chaotic, use the pedestrian bridges to cross streets. Make sure that you will visit at Bom Jesus and Sameiro. You could get awesome view to the city.
Partying: Visit bars near the university. There will be everyone. Especially Stephane-bar is highly recommended. Pint of beer will cost 2€. 😉 And it is student’s living room, almost.
My time with this blog is come to its end and I should start to fill grant-papers again and apply my 2nd part of grant. Remember to ask letter of confirmation from the host university! I thought I had that one, but turned out that I don’t have it… Oops!
I had really nice time in Braga and Portugal. I hope that, you get enough information from this blog to your own exchange! I will absolutely travel there again and again.
With best regards,