The Perks of Living Abroad

A paper published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes this March confirms what we’ve known all along: living abroad is good for you! Hajo Adam and his fellow researchers took a look at how delving into a new culture can help you know yourself better. The paper, “The shortest path to oneself leads around the world,” claims that living in a new place increases self clarity. This is because you can reflect on your own desires and behavior better when you’re out of your usual cultural context. Interestingly, the study found that it was more beneficial to live in one foreign country for a long time than to live in many countries briefly.

This research is the latest in a trend of studies that have found that experiences in foreign countries enhance creativity, reduce biases between groups, and lead to career success. As the paper sums up, “Leaving one’s home country for extended periods of time likely allows people to reap the numerous benefits that a clear sense of self provides.” Studying abroad is the perfect way to immerse yourself in a new culture for a long time, at a crucial time for self reflection and clarity!


Will I Like Studying in Portugal?

If you’ve heard about Portugal’s beautiful weather, amazing food, and strong universities we bet you’re considering studying here! However, it can be nerve-racking to study in a foreign country. Even students who can’t wait to go abroad and start a new adventure are bound to have doubts. If I study in Portugal, will I like it? Will the people be friendly? Will I feel safe? Will anyone speak English?


One of the most important things that make a country home is feeling accepted by the people and culture. Forbes recently declared Portugal the friendliest country in the world! Portuguese culture is open and warm, and most of the people interviewed found it easy to make friends in Portugal. A high percentage of the expats said that they planned to remain here permanently. This large foreign population also helps make Portuguese culture so dynamic! With a growing emphasis on international education and a startup culture, Lisbon and other cities host people from around the world.

Portugal is a very safe country; SafeAround ranks Lisbon as the 17th safest city in the world, and Portugal as the 11th safest country. Travellers and students in Portugal can feel comfortable and secure. Language barriers can make studying in a new country very stressful and increase culture shock. Luckily in Portugal, about one third of the population speaks English, with the number higher in cities and younger populations. You'll be able to get around the country easily while you’re still learning Portuguese. Multiple universities offer programs in English as well, such as CLSBE. It’s even more common for graduate programs to be taught in English; many even have links to schools in the United States.

While every international student will have a different experience in Portugal (that’s what makes studying abroad so exciting!) we are confident you’ll find the country warm and welcoming!

International Success

Last week we blogged about the educational partnerships between Portuguese universities and foreign institutions. This week, we want to update you on the results of these partnerships. Dozens of new companies have been formed through collaboration with international organizations. Feedzai was the first startup generated by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal program. The company, which uses artificial intelligence to fight fraud, is valued at over 500 million euros. This business is just one of hundreds started as a result of partnerships with foreign institutions. Others include Veniam, which creates technology for autonomous cars, and FuelSave, which helps companies reduce their fuel use by 20%.


UTEN Portugal reported that each euro that the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia invested in these companies yielded 40 euros return. With these results in mind, the Portuguese government initiated the second phase of this project, GoPortugal, in February to keep the partnerships in place until 2030. 64 million euros have been invested into the second cycle, as the Minister of Higher Education Manuel Heitor discussed during a visit to the United States.

The rewards are not just monetary either; in the first five years of the program, universities were granted 20% more patents. Spinoff companies reported an increase in hiring of 38%. 1500 students have completed their higher education through one of these programs. Overall, it is clear that national markets can benefit from educational partnerships across borders just as much as international students can! The success of GoPortugal will likely contribute to a rise in educational cooperation in Portugal and abroad.

Digitizing Portugal

The government of Portugal signed a memorandum of understanding with network technology company Cisco earlier this month to increase the country’s digitization. The aim of the two year partnership, according to Prime Minister António Costa, is “to create a sustainable innovation ecosystem that will enable our country to better compete in the global digital economy.”

The partnership has a wide spectrum of goals with an emphasis on education and entrepreneurship. To optimize education, they plan to teach students digital skills and create ‘smart schools.’ A collaboration with StartUP Portugal will support tech startups and help them achieve international expansion. The third priority is digital transformation of the Public sector, making government platforms more efficient.

This program follows the Portuguese national initiative Indústria 4.0 that was expanded at the 2017 European Commission Digital Day. The Commission is working to coordinate and fund national digitization efforts across Europe. International students will play a role in both plans. Investments that Portugal, Cisco, and the EU make in technology and digital industry will encourage international, diverse entrepreneurship and ensure that students are trained for the jobs of the future.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, Prime Minister António Costa, and Minister of Presidency and Administrative Modernization Maria Manuel Leitão Marques. Photo via  GlobeNewswire .

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, Prime Minister António Costa, and Minister of Presidency and Administrative Modernization Maria Manuel Leitão Marques. Photo via GlobeNewswire.

Scientific Growth

Last year saw a dramatic rise in the number of patents granted to Portugal by the European Patent Office. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of patents granted rose 15.3%, the highest rate of growth in a decade! The areas with the most applications were medication and medical technology. Porto led the country with 16% of applications, and Universidade do Porto ranked in the top 5 applicants.

The growth was not contained to Portugal; Europe overall applied for more patents in 2017 with a 3.9% growth, highlighting the rising interest in STEM and tech knowledge across the continent. We've already reported on the emphasis of these fields in Portuguese schools and the growth of these markets in Portugal. This recent news highlights the ideal timing for international students to study abroad in Portugal!

Photo via  U.Porto

Photo via U.Porto

International Women's Day in Portugal

Today is Dia Internacional da Mulher, International Women’s Day! The theme this year is 'Press for Progress,' with celebrations, strikes, and marches occurring around the world. Progress is crucial in Portugal; a recent Eurostat report highlighted the work that needs to be done to increase income equality. However, advancements are clear as well. Later this month, Tomar will host the Women Economic Forum, with Portuguese women speaking to an international audience on the topic of ‘Women Dream Weavers.’ Yesterday’s report from the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs placed Portugal as the 6th top market for female entrepreneurship, as well as the country with the 10th highest percentage of women as business owners. These factors, as well as an increasing number of women in tertiary education, make it clear that Portuguese women are pressing for progress.

Image via  IWD

Image via IWD

Doctorates on the Rise

According to a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the number of doctoral graduates has increased worldwide within the last 20 years. The majority of these graduates are from countries in OECD, of which Portugal has been a member since the ‘60s. The report also noted that the distribution of degrees has changed, with over half awarded in STEM and health fields. These increases can be sourced to large emerging economies, like India, in addition to changes in the higher education landscape.

Image via  TNW

Image via TNW

OECD referenced increasing digitalization in schools and internationalized research. These changes bode well for Portugal, as Portuguese institutions focus on global educational cooperation, including gaining international students. This upward trend will likely keep increasing in the country with the news that polytechnics can award doctorate degrees.

Portugal, the good destination

Europe is comprised of more than 40 countries. The continent is as diverse as its coasts - just take a look at the world map and you will see that the coasts of Europe are all rugged.

At a first glance, Portugal appears quite far from everywhere. Locked at the end of the continent by bigger and better known Spain. :( So sad...

Geographically speaking, why should you go so far away?

"It's so far from France/Germany/UK/Sweden... I cannot travel anywhere..." :(

Think again! Europe is the smallest continent, by area, which means that you can reach the very other side of the continent, in less than four hours! Lisbon and Porto have airports with direct connections to most of European Capitals and other interesting tourist destinations across the continent. Due to Portugal's size and the distribution of Portuguese Universities, it is quite easy to reach an airport, pretty much anywhere, for a low price.

Moreover, the most well known low cost European companies - EasyJet, RyanAir, WizzAir - serve Porto, Lisbon, Faro, Funchal and Terceira Airports, with regular flights to pretty much everywhere in Europe. Check these links to see all the airlines that operate in Porto and Lisbon.

Coming from outside the EU, you'll need a Visa and if you obtain the Schengen Visa, you'll be able to travel around EU, without much ado. ;)

So, even far from the center of Europe, Portugal is in the center of the action!

In the beginning...

Welcome to UniPortugal!

If you clicked here, it means you want to know all about us and what are we all about.

In this section, we will post updates on Portugal, Portuguese education and all the articles that will let you know what is going on in the country.

This information will inspire you to make the decision to come to join us here. 

Stay tuned!

Other questions, you can reach us via comments, email, or social media.

Best wishes,

The UniPortugal team