My name is Chaney Scott and I am an exchange student for the semester at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Through the semester, I have been extremely fortunate to travel around Europe. My favorite cities have been Edinburgh, Vienna, Belfast and Lisbon. While there are exciting adventures awaiting in every place, overall, my favorite country I’ve visited has been Portugal.

         As far as I know, I am the only student from the state of Alabama at the University of Glasgow. I was the only exchange student sent from UA. Early on, I joined campus societies to make friends since I didn’t know anyone. My closest friends I’ve made have been in my dorm! I am a naturally independent person, so this was the perfect type of study abroad for me.

         Last month, I was sitting on the bus next to another international student from Brisbane, Australia. We were talking about how beautiful we’d heard Portugal was. A few days later, our flights were booked and three other girls were joining us! Two Australians, two Americans (Alabama and New Jersey) and one local Scot made up our cohort.

         With colorful, floral tiles decorating almost every building, Lisbon is unlike any other city. The narrow cobblestone streets make you feel like you’re stepping back in time. After being in rainy Scotland for an extended winter, the springtime wind and warm sunshine was a refreshing mood boost.

         In Lisbon, we saw several historic churches and the Praça do Comércio, rode in a tram, strolled through Alfama, ate chicken piri piri and watched the sunset over the water. A highlight of the trip was trying Portugeuse desserts! Pastel de nata is a traditional Portuguese tart made with egg custard. The delicious sugary recipe was concocted by nuns hundreds of years ago! After trying our first tart, we ended up making stops at a couple more bakeries for more…

         We took a brief train from Lisbon to gorgeous Sintra for a day trip. With all the sights to see in Sintra, we could’ve easily extended our stay! I was surprised how much there was to do in a small town. We saw several free parks and then got lunch. In the afternoon, we rode in a tuk tuk halfway up the mountain and then climbed more up a steep hill to see the vibrant yellow National Palace of Pena. My favorite part of the day was feeling like a fairy at the Quinta da Regaleira. With flowers perfectly in bloom for spring, the scenery was gorgeous. This historic garden is known for an ornate palace and the iconic Initiation Well. Not just any well, this is a winding spiral staircase that leads you down into the deep darkness of a cave. As we walked out of the cave, we saw the back of a tranquil waterfall.

         After a few days in Lisbon, we spent three days in Porto. We took a train that was three and a half hours to get there. Most of the churches in Porto you have to pay to enter, so we skipped those. We crossed the bridge Ponte de Dom Luís I above a large, blue river into Gaia. We took a high-up cable car down to a local market. One of my friends got jewelry and I bought a tea towel embroidered with the local cathedral on it.

         Laying by Magdalena Beach in the sunshine was the perfect way to close the trip. We wanted to relax on our final day. It was not too far from Porto, so it ended up being more affordable to split an Uber than to use public transportation. The beach was rocky, but perfect for collecting unique shells. One of the Australian girls mentioned the beach looked almost identical to the Gold Coast.

         The next day, we woke up at 6:00am to make certain we were on time for our flight. We made it back to Glasgow that afternoon. Though I have enjoyed every country I’ve been to, Portugal is my all-time favorite place I have been. From the sunny coast to delectable cuisine to Fado music, Portugal is a country I hope everyone gets to visit at least once.