Text：UM Reporters Zhang Leilei, Tian Huining │ Photo：Provided by the interviewees │ ISSUE 89 May 2019 My UM
UM students have the opportunity to study abroad at one of over 150 universities around the world to experience different cultures and to pursue diverse educational experiences. More than ten of these universities are located in Portugal. In this article, three students from UM share their experiences living and studying in this unique country which borders the Atlantic Ocean.
Portuguese-Speaking Environment for Studying Law
Last February, Gloria Pun, a third-year student in both the Honours College and the Faculty of Law, travelled to Portugal to join an exchange programme at the University of Coimbra, the country’s oldest university with more than 700 years of history. ‘The law courses were taught in Portuguese,’ says Pun. ‘My teacher would not slow down the pace of the lecture to accommodate for the Chinese students in class. After class, I usually returned to my dormitory to read and review the content for the next lecture.’
According to Pun, her teacher once said in class that even though she and her friends from Macao were not proficient in Portuguese, they were the most hard-working students and always tried to catch up with the class. ‘I was touched by her words because my effort and hard work was recognised,’ says Pun. She adds that Coimbra is a very energetic university town. ‘The city and the university have blended with each other. Stepping out of my faculty, I could reach the Faculty of Psychology in just a few blocks,’ says Pun. ‘The town is relaxing but at the same time filled with energy.’
Meeting Students from Around the World
Clara Yang, a third-year student in the Department of Portuguese and a resident of Choi Kai Yau College, participated in an exchange programme at the University of Porto last semester. Most of her classmates were Portuguese, while some were exchange students from Spain or other countries. According to Yang, many locals were interested in Asian culture. She also became friends with a Portuguese student who was studying Chinese language.
Yang transferred to the University of Coimbra this semester. ‘Porto is the second largest city in Portugal. After class, my classmates and I would spend some time walking around town, hanging around the bridge, or watching sunset in a park,’ says Yang. ‘Coimbra has a very good academic vibe, but the town is quite small and there are fewer things to do.’ In the next summer holiday, she will travel to Angola with a professor to participate in a research project about Portuguese language in Africa.
First Skydiving Experience
Stephen Mok, a third-year student in the Faculty of Business Administration and a resident of Moon Chun Memorial College, took up an exchange in the School of Economics and Management at the University of Lisbon. Before heading to Portugal, Mok thought potatoes were the main staple food for Portuguese people. It was only some time later that he realised they eat a wide variety of food, including various Asian cuisines. When he was unsure about the pronunciation of a word, he would ask the local people for assistance. ‘They are very friendly and are willing to teach you,’ says Mok.
Since his classes were designed for exchange students, he spoke to his classmates primarily in English. He says that European students are very serious about their studies. For group projects, in addition to discussing issues online, they would also meet with each other after class. Outside the classroom, Mok visited Algarve in the south of Portugal and engaged in his first skydiving adventure from a height of 5,000 metres. The experience allowed him to appreciate the beautiful scenery from above.