Architecture, Portugal

UW Study Abroad in Porto, Portugal

Sketch by Celeste Meneses

It was the Summer of ’98 and I decided to study abroad in Portugal. I had already planned to go to Portugal to visit my family and thought what better way but to top it off with a semester at Porto’s School of Architecture. It was a great idea.

The course started with all of us meeting in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. All of us gathered there and spent a couple of days visiting the local sites. Margarette Leite, our professor, made arrangements to meet various educators, guides, and lecturers throughout our stay. Lisbon was great but that was on the beginning. We also visited Sintra, Lagos, Santiago de Compostella (Spain), Arraiolos, Elvas, Monsaraz and many more. I calle d my parents at one point and my father shared that in my short time there, I had already visited more of Portugal than he did his entire life.

Although we were all over Portugal, we spent the majority of our time in Porto and the adjacent towns. At FAUP (Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade do Porto), we met a group of Portuguese students who would be our counterparts for the semester. Our new friends included: Pedro, Andre, Ines Castelo-Branco, Helder Agostinho and Abel Nunes. They were all great…and by the end of the semester they were like family. Besides the fact that we would eat, breathe and live architecture…they would spend evenings with us and cook, have drinks and just share culture, music, food and many laughs with us.

In addition to the Portuguese group, our core group was awesome. Again, we were like family and the times shared were amazing…

At the time I was experiencing it, I didn’t realize how lucky I was. Poor Margarette had to put up with my sometimes arrogant/know it all ways. For some reason I developed the attitude, seen it – done that. I’m not sure if this was an issue of insecurity and didnt want to demonstrate how little I truly knew…or if it was just youth. Looking back it was dumb. Thankfully, Margarette and the group was patient and understanding and always sharing.

My life so far as been a series of amazing memories woven together through time. The learning experience in Portugal and later throughout Europe with my fellow student, Derek Pavlik, was one I will never forget.

I could go on and on writing about my experience but I am intentionally cutting it short…My hope is that eventually members of the group mentioned above stumble upon this and share their own thoughts…and allow this memory to grow. So now all that is waiting is you!