After stepping on the plane to go to Portugal with my study abroad group, I felt a sense of worry. I had never been to a place where I did not speak the predominant language. However, I was quick to learn that Lisbon is very English speaker friendly. Most restaurants have English versions of their menus and most people that live and work there have a basic level of English. With that fear gone, I started to investigate activities where I could learn about the culture of Portugal and see different parts of the country.  

One of my favorite experiences of being in Portugal was an azulejos making class I went to with two of my classmates. Azulejos are Portuguese hand painted tiles. They are extremely important to Portugal’s history and culture. I signed up for this class through Airbnb and could not be more grateful that I found it. Our instructor, Caroline, grew up in Lisbon and taught us about the history of the tiles, the techniques for making them, and helped us paint two tiles for us to take home. Overall, this was the highlight of my time in Lisbon. 

Another fun activity I did was a traditional Portuguese cooking class. One of my classmates found a private cooking class from a Portuguese chef and reserved it for anyone in our program that wanted to go. It was very hands on, and everyone had a role in making our feast. We made Portuguese rice, octopus salad, chorizo, pork ribs, fish stew, and pastel de nata. Somehow, I got stuck with the job of preparing the octopus salad. It was a bit scary at first, especially since the suction cups would stick to my fingers when chopping up the octopus! However, once I tried it, I learned that it was quite delicious. Study abroad is all about trying new things, and that is definitely what I did in this cooking class!

One of the azulejos I made.

My group with the Portuguese feast we made in our cooking class.

Me preparing the octopus for the octopus salad.