Bom Dia! Feedback from Portugal: we’re fans. So, it’s a country we’ve been all over: Porto, Lisbon, Coimbra, Faro… all these cities are as pretty and dynamic as each other! We’re going to put all our experiences together and tell you a few anecdotes to help you discover Portugal before your work placement abroad, through the experiences of the team! Portugal is really nice – even my dad loved it! – and it’s a great place to live, with very good and affordable food, plenty of sunshine, beautiful towns and friendly people: it’s got everything you need to enjoy yourself!

Anecdote 1 : After particulier

2011 ! I’m off with some friends to Portugal, staying in Rua Do Norte in the centre of Lisbon, just a few steps from the quays, right in the middle of the streets packed with bars, clubs and other places of good-natured debauchery! To put you in context: Major Lazer’s Watcha Out For This has just been released and Sarko is still President of France (I’ll be damned if I’m going to read this again in 2023, I’ll be crying my eyes out!) With Naïg (who didn’t have any kids yet …!) and David, we decided one evening to go and have a beer at Gay Bar 106: pints are €1, always a good idea! We met a bunch of girls and guys, and ended up dancing on the quayside to Dancehall – a bit tipsy – until daybreak. I love Dancehall, and I was shocked to hear this kind of sound in Portugal. I’d been stuck on the big clichés of Fado; it’s no good, if the Portuguese do the same, we should be rocking out to Edith Piaf or Dalida! Then our new friends suggest an after-party: we accept, out of politeness of course, but certainly to have a big party. And surprise, surprise: an after-party in Lisbon that evening was obviously a dirty proposition, with a horror film in Russian with Portuguese subtitles playing in the background. We quickly fled back to the youth hostel to come to our senses! I won’t go into too much detail to avoid any embarrassment, but I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get out of an evening ah ah

Anecdote 2: Cod farming 

A bit of culture! My cousin – by marriage – is of Portuguese origin, and he eats the traditional Portuguese dish par excellence: cod. When I was in Portugal, I said to myself: OK, I want to see a cod without being dried. Shops, grocers, restaurants… they were dried everywhere. One morning, I decided to get up very early to go to the fishing port (despite the ban …) and I met a friendly fisherman who showed me … a cod. It’s the same f*cking fish, with two f*cking different names! You can imagine my disappointment. By the way, if you like a good joke too, let me tell you one. My cousin and my cousin by marriage were kind enough to put me up for a few months when I came to Paris, so I often looked after the two youngest; the youngest was 3 at the time. Once, I took him with me to do some shopping, and in the Cery Pontoise area, there’s a big Portuguese community, so the supermarket had a lovely dried cod stand: I sat the little one in the middle, took a photo of him and then sent it to the family group on Messenger with the comment “family photo” ? LOL.

Anecdote 3: Walking like never before 

Portugal is sublime! But whether you’re in Porto or Lisbon, put on your crampons and your best T-shirt, because to visit, you’re going to have to walk a lot. Not that the cities are excessively large: but it’s *very* hilly: both cities are built on hills. In addition to a bottle of water to avoid dehydration, it’s very important to wear sun cream and a cap: it’s a valley, so the temperatures are excessively hot, and that’s the best way to get sunstroke and ruin your stay. I gave the same advice on a school trip to Malta this year: some people – mainly guys – didn’t take my advice, and the next day the truth: bim, three sunstrokes, three medical appointments: 4 days in bed, so 4 days less to enjoy abroad! When you’re walking around in 35 degree weather, from morning to night, you’re happy to be able to enjoy the cheap terraces and drink as much water as you like! What’s more, in Lisbon, the places to visit are on several sides, and the city is really splendid: there’s no point in taking public transport, but then we were THRILLED at the end of the day!

Anecdote 4: The Art of Slowness 

In Portugal, everything is slower than in France: the service, the way of walking, the rhythm of the evenings… it’s a real art of living. The people are welcoming and peaceful! The towns are very touristy, yet the shopkeepers still have extraordinary patience. It’s a really good place to live, there are concerts everywhere, it’s warm, cheap and smiling… we love Portugal! By the way, we’d like to recommend a little band that we discovered on the quays of Porto in 2018: Cocopilots! To listen to their sounds, head to YouTube, with a cover of Aïcha that I found incredible! Although I have to admit that it was even nicer in the sunshine with a beer!

Anecdote 5: The culture of helping others

As I’m an insect coward, I sometimes get into a little mischief, and Portugal was no exception. That same year, we were staying at a youth hostel when the rain came. Well, not the rain we get in Brittany, but a pleasant little shower. I’m in a youth hostel, wearing a t-shirt and sports shorts for breakfast, and there it is: the first cockroach on the wall. Not the little cockroach you know, but the real thing, bigger than an inch! (And I’m 1m90 tall, so I’ve got mason’s hands!) Then, a second, a third … I find myself on the street in a flatbed: the waitress at the bar opposite, who sees me in a panic outside, barefoot under the water while my mates are laughing at me in the window, makes me go back into the bar and calmly buys me a little fruit juice, while waiting for my mates to relax and me too ah ah.

Another anecdote, several times I got lost – and when I’m lost, and on holiday, I take the time to ask people rather than rush to my mobile – and I asked for directions: almost every time, people patiently accompanied me to where I wanted to go, or at least on a direct route so that I didn’t get lost. It’s so nice to feel welcome somewhere, it makes you feel at home straight away in the country, and it makes you want to get out even more, meet people and have fun!

Anecdote 6: The art of celebrating

Portugal is a really great place to party! All the big party venues are relatively close together: it’s not like in Lyon where you have to run a half-marathon when you want to change bars or go on to nightclubs. Plus, the Portuguese are really great party people: they have a sense of rhythm, and there’s something for everyone. One evening, while we were at a restaurant, I caught a glimpse of one of the waitresses ? Anyway, I pulled out my best pick-up line, the two pints I’d had earlier giving me enough courage to go for it: we ended the evening with her, the boss, my mates and a table of other customers, all pinching each other until the early hours. In fact, we took a taxi to the hostel and then to the airport – our flight was at around 8am, so we left the bar … at around 5.30am!

Another time, in fact, we came back on the first flight: the return flight was infamous: all the flights were cancelled because of a storm in Paris, except Ryanair of course: there was lightning on the return, you could see like in broad daylight, it was … detestable. I fly regularly, and it was the worst flight of my life. I’ve never been as scared of flying as I am now.

Anyway, if you’ve been convinced by this little feedback, and you’re keen to go and do your work experience abroad … For your future internship in Portugal: contact us, the Team is on hand to answer any questions you may have 😀

For more general questions, visit the International Horizons Internships Abroad FAQ.