One-third of former Erasmus students have a partner of another nationality and one million Erasmus babies were born since the education program began.
Portuguese can be learned from Year 7 onwards when you have to choose which other languages you which to learn. From Grammar school onwards, you can learn to speak Portuguese to become a Lusophone, provided that the Portuguese language is offered in your secondary school.
But to progress quickly in a foreign language, nothing beats total immersion.
You can watch a Portuguese television channel or listen to Brazilian music, but the best way is to go on a language trip or to spend some time living in Portugal.
Follow our guide to study Portuguese, we give you advice on how to go abroad to study.
Going to Portugal to study
Would you like to learn Portuguese to continue your studies abroad?
First of all, it will be necessary to take Portuguese courses because Portuguese universities ask their candidates to take an entrance exam to check their language level.
A beginner's level may not be enough to enrol in a Portuguese university, knowing that the courses will most certainly be in Portuguese. Try to reach at least an intermediate level to better integrate and follow the courses you have chosen for your diploma or degree.
In high school, you can already start with a language exchange with a native speaker to learn how to deal with real-life situations.
If you are determined to leave for Portugal for at least one term, semester or academic year, you can get financial support through various scholarships. Starting with the Erasmus grant program.
To apply for this bursary, it is better to do it one full year ahead of your intended departure date, by contacting the International Relations Office. You should also discuss this with your teachers as you will need a letter of recommendation from two of them.
Then, all you have to do is register directly at your host university in Portugal. Admission conditions differ from one to the other, so it is better to ask the administration of the institution concerned directly.
The Erasmus grant covers the student's tuition fees in Portugal and entitles them to a monthly grant of approximately £150.
But other financial aid may be granted to the student such as a scholarship from your local council authority or local government.
All The Formalities To Study In Portugal
Before taking the leap and going to a Portuguese-speaking country to study for your degree, as well as Portuguese grammar, phonetics and the sounds of the language, you will need to prepare yourself.
Portugal is part of the Schengen area just like the UK, which means that you can go there freely, without a visa as long as you possess proper international identification documents such as a passport.
As the UK does not make it mandatory for its citizens to hold a national ID card, your alternatives will either be a passport or an international driver's licence.
No visa is therefore required for British students, but if you stay more than one term and less than one year, you will need to apply for a temporary residence permit upon arrival at the competent authorities. After more than one year in Portugal, you will have to apply for a Portuguese residence permit.
If you need to do an internship abroad, you only need a work permit as well.
University registration requires the possession of an A-level or equivalent certificate of education and you will need to request an equivalence with the Portuguese Ministry of Education. The entrance exam depends on the university you are aiming for, but it is usually made up of 1 to 3 subjects.
Depending on the length of your stay, you may need to open a bank account, sign up for a mobile phone number, electricity or water contract. Everything is done as in the UK, the same proof of address and identity documents will be requested.
But if you want to be able to converse with your landlord, it is better to master Portuguese pronunciation, intonation and vocabulary by heart.
The British Student Guide To Study in Portugal
Taking Portuguese language courses before leaving to study in Portugal is essential to enrol in universities.
If you will find Portuguese people speaking English and even French, your courses will undoubtedly be in Portuguese.
You can take intensive courses and take the opportunity to improve your listening and speaking skills. A fun course will allow you to accelerate your memorization and to dialogue easily and travel alone in Portugal.
The cost of living is lower in Portugal. The minimum wage is €680, less than half the average wage in the UK and you will find the cost of living in Portugal more affordable than in the UK, especially if you are from London.
Food is 30% cheaper on average in supermarkets but also in restaurants: you can buy a hearty dish for about less than ten euros.
To find accommodation, get help from your university. In Portugal, the start-up Uniplaces specialises in student housing. Feel free to visit their website. For a shared room, it is possible to find one between 200 and 400 € per month depending on the location of the apartment and its standing.
And don't forget to apply for a university residence. Spots are few but the rent is very cheap: 100 € per month. In the off chance that you get lucky and get one of the spots, you might be able to save a fair amount of money.
The best advice you can get is to be open-minded. When you go to another country, you tend to compare it to your own. While natural, this habit does not help you to immerse yourself totally in the culture of the country, without any judgment.
Portugal and Great Britain, though sharing a certain amount of European history, are two very different countries and some culture shock is to be expected but not at all feared.
The Latin language is similar to the written language of Spanish, but in the spoken version of it is very different. The sounds are richer, the accent is singing and it will take practice to master the Portuguese conjugation.
The personality of the Portuguese is also different from ours. Without making any generalizations, the Portuguese are colder and less extroverted than their Spanish neighbours. They attach great importance to decorum and reverence. They also have great difficulty saying no, which can cause some problems on a daily basis.
On the other hand, if they seem withdrawn at first glance, all you have to do is break the ice and discover people who are welcoming, helpful and warm.
As in Spain, the Catholic religion occupies a considerable place in Portugal, as does football, to which they are truly committed.
As for mealtimes, you won't be too disoriented, however, they don't live on Spanish time, even if they still like to party.
Feel free to immerse yourself in Portuguese culture by listening to fado, tasting the typical dishes and travelling through the country to the Azores, Lisbon and Faro.
Choosing The Right Portuguese University
Before you take off on a trip to Brazil to learn Brazilian Portuguese and get drunk on Brazilian culture, you can take advantage of Erasmus to learn Portuguese words and become bilingual.
You can then use Portuguese to travel to Macau, East Timor, Rio de Janeiro or Guinea Bissau.
But first, you have to choose your university in Portugal.
Portugal's school system is gradually adapting to comply with the European LMD system. The country's public and private universities are already up to date. Only polytechnic institutes are still in the process of standardization.
Thus, a semester validated in Portugal can be used to obtain your diploma in the UK. All credits are transferable. The LMD system corresponds to three cycles: bachelor, master, doctorate.
Public or private universities provide theoretical and general education, while polytechnics prepare for a profession and offer professional training to students.
The top 5 universities in the country are as follows:
The University of Porto with its 13 faculties, its Institute of Biomedical Sciences and its Business School,
The New University of Lisbon (NOVA): best faculty of economics,
The University of Coimbra, the oldest in the country,
The University of Lisbon, the largest in the country,
The Portuguese Catholic University, a renowned business school.
If you visit the universities of Porto or Coimbra, you will surely find that students wear a special outfit: black suit for men, black tailor for women, all decorated with a tie and a black cape.
This is what inspired the capes that students wear at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter saga, with J.K. Rowling having lived in Porto for a few years.
So, ready to study in Portugal?