Lisbon is a culturally rich city with vibrant art and music scene, a historic opera house, museums, concert venues, galleries, a dynamic cinemathèque, and more. Enjoy frequent visits to sites of historic and cultural importance, including the medieval walled towns of Óbidos and Sintra.
Besides site visits and lectures in and around Lisbon, SiPN organizes at least 2 trips/semester (or 1 per summer session) outside of Lisbon, so that students gain an understanding of the country’s diversity. Previous trips have included overnight stays in Evora, a UNESCO world heritage site and lovely white-walled fortified city in the heart of the Alentejo region. There, students tour a working vineyard, learn about enotourism (wine tourism) in Portugal, and see how cork and olives are harvested, learning about the transformations in Portugal’s rural world that have come along with European integration.
On a trip to Coimbra and Porto, you might take a tour of Porto’s Casa da Musica, and tour the city with US expatriate and award-winning author Richard Zimler. While in Coimbra you will have a guided tour of one of the oldest universities in the world and its famous Joanina Library.
Check out the video “Study in Lisbon – Live, Love, Learn”
SiPN regularly organizes film & music series throughout the city in very unique venues (local associations, clubs, museums etc.) to engage students with various themes while also showcasing the most interesting places in town, the majority of which are off the typical tourist path.
Portugal has so much to see…but many students nevertheless want to take advantage of Lisbon’s location to visit other countries in Europe or Africa. For example, over a long weekend, Carnival or Easter breaks, the January winter break for those staying for the entire academic year, students can hop on a low-cost airline and visit some amazing locations in just a matter of hours.
Take a look at the following popular european low-cost airlines and explore:
Some students may prefer going “old school style” via the European InterRail. You can explore options Here, from one of Lisbon’s main train stations.
Students are obliged to inform SiPN every time they leave the country during their SiPN term (mandatory).
The Visiting Family Program (VFP) gives you the unique opportunity to dive into the experiences of families in the Lisbon area or its suburbs. SiPN will match you with a family with whom you will visit at least once a month during your semester-length stay.*
This VFP opportunity allows you to learn more about Portuguese culture as well as share your own. You will be a part of a wonderful intercultural exchange, which will help you build a network of friendships and contacts in Portugal!
Here are some fun activities that we have suggested to our visiting family volunteers students:
- Engage in activities and day trips in Lisbon and the suburbs
- Discuss cultural differences and ask questions
- Meet extended family and participate in celebrations and events
- Share cultural foods by cooking a meal together
- Take part in various family routines
- Visit the place of work of one of the members of the family
What Can I Expect by Joining the Visiting Family Program?
- Communication is key! SiPN requires that all visiting family students are able to commit to making plans to see their visiting families at least once a month. Once SiPN has made the match and facilitated the contact, it is up to both parties to share the responsibility of meeting;
- Some families ask to be matched with two students – so the Visiting Family Program could also present a chance to get to know another SiPN student;
- Many visits with your visiting family can include meals, as this is a strong tradition in the Portuguese culture, as you will discover. It can be difficult to accommodate students who have dietary restrictions, so you should not expect to be matched according to this. However, we encourage you to use this as an opportunity to reveal a part of who you are with the family, by offering to help cook and share recipes!
Who are SiPN Visiting Families?
Our Visiting families are diverse. They may or may not have children, they might be single parents, retirees, or have a large tight-knit extended family. All of them typically speak English fluently, but if your goal is to practice your Portuguese, you should make this clear during the placement process and SiPn will do its best to relay this information to our host families.
We try our best to match you with a visiting family that will share similar interests and want to engage in plans as often as both parties desire.
Who Can Sign Up for the Visiting Family Program?
All semester-long students are encouraged to sign up! You will be given an opportunity to sign up during the application phase. If SiPN is unable to find a visiting family for you, you will be placed on a waitlist.
Volunteer during your time in Portugal and engage in a meaningful service experience. Give back to the community while making Portuguese connections and it could just be one of the best decisions you make while studying abroad!
Volunteer Spontaneously Throughout the Semester with one of SiPN’s partners, such as the Lisbon Municipality Volunteer program.
Perks of the volunteer service:
- It’s a great way to make personal connections in Lisbon, as you work alongside other Portuguese and international students;
- You might earn access to special discounts, such as vouchers and free entrance to events and concerts.
How Do I Participate?
Just let us know before you depart, or during the first two weeks after you have arrived in Lisbon and the SiPN On-site Coordinator will put you in contact with our partners
If you have ever wondered how the life of a young person in Europe differs from yours and would like to experience it first-hand, then the buddy network is ideal for you.
Who Are SiPN Buddies and How Does the Program Work?
The buddies are volunteers ages 18-27 living in the greater Lisbon area. Some of them plan to study abroad in the U.S. and would like to learn about the college system there while establishing a social network before leaving. Others just want to meet new people and gain some cross-cultural skills.
The SiPN Buddy Program is a framework that provides you with the opportunity to interact with Portuguese students, but any successful friendships you may develop depend on your level of personal engagement. For this reason, SiPN highly encourages you to participate in organizing events, help suggest ideas for events, and to generally make an effort to make your particular network the best one possible.
No need to sign up!
All students will benefit from this initiative. SiPN, along with the Portuguese partner universities finds and mantains a database of young Portuguese college students who like this idea of serving as ambassadors to SiPN students!
SiPN partners regularly with local creative organizations to support students in creative projects that are developed during their stay in Lisbon. SiPN actively promotes the idea that students should leave a positive mark on the city in which they are living, interacting with sites and people while developing their critical artistic and reflective faculties.
Check out SiPN’s Spring 16 “Leave a Mark in the City” album with photos taken with Lomo cameras.
SiPN Speak Up initiative provides students with extra opportunities to practice and to master their Portuguese language skills (non-credit bearing). From complete begginer level to advanced-level students, all are welcome!
Through its contacts, SiPN works with language schools and faculty (usually from our partner universities) to create informal sessions, held outside the university setting, to provide students with the opportunity to clarify their doubts, practice their verbal and listening skills.
These meetings also have a strong cultural angle to it as they are usually held in public areas that are emblematic for Lisboneers and they have a theme to center the conversation and to pass along a real Portuguese message. Expect some tasks to involve a direct conversation with Portuguese locals (including “SiPN buddies”).
Students interested in having access to these kinds of programming should establish contact with SiPN once in Lisbon so we can generate a cohort. Joining SiPN’s speak-up program takes a semester-long commitment with weekly meetings happening all throughout the semester.
Students in the 21st century are expected to graduate with a variety of skills that go beyond disciplinary knowledge. Adaptability, cultural empathy, tolerance for ambiguity, strong intercultural communication skills, a collaborative work ethic, and intellectual curiosity are all valued in the complex landscape of international relations and global business
We, at SiPN, make sure all of our students experience a multicultural environment, not only you will be taking classes with other international and Portuguese students but you will also be sharing housing.
If you are the kind of student who wants to make a difference in the local community, SiPN can also connect you with organizations throughout Lisbon that are looking for volunteers.