Truly Being a Foreigner

This past weekend, the Seville API group hit the road for an international excursion, Lisbon, Portugal! This was my first time to Portugal and I had no idea of what to expect when we arrived, but by the time we left, my friends and I had fallen in love with the city we explored for the weekend.

Normally, we leave for trips on Friday (since classes go Monday through Thursday) but since we were traveling so far, we left Thursday afternoon to take the 6 hour drive. Once we settled in our rooms (which had the most comfortable beds!) a bunch of the group went to a restaurant that had traditional Portuguese food. For many of my friends, it was the first time we really experienced feeling like a foreigner while abroad. In Spain, we can at least speak some of the language and know the area. In Lisbon, none of us knew how to speak Portuguese and we really didn’t know the city. So that first night, looking at the menu that looked like gibberish, we struggled! But we did manage to figure out salmon and chicken which turned out to be fantastic!

Friday was the group day where when we all hopped on the bus together to go around the city and walk around different neighborhoods. After a few hours of driving around, getting off the bus, taking photos, and getting back on the bus, we were free to explore before the Fado show that we went to last night (Fado is a music genre specific to Portugal). My friends and I had put together a list of things that we were interested in seeing while in Lisbon, so we used the free time to grab food and head up to the Castle of St. Jorge. Though we only had about an hour to walk around before the show, we were able to take hundreds of photos, climb old walls, and even see some beautiful peacocks!

Saturday, they let us roam free in the city to do what we wanted. A lot of people went to the aquarium, but we decided to explore more spots we had read about. After breakfast in the hotel, we went to the Lisbon Flea Market that happens basically all day Saturday. Right next to the flea market was the National Pantheon (also called the Church of Santa Engracia). We walked the many levels until we were finally on the very top, where we had one of the most amazing views of the city. It was hands down one of my favorite spots that I have visited on our travels thus far.

For the rest of the day, we shopped around, found Arcadia (a chocolate shop that my friend had heard about), and just tried to enjoy the downtown part of the city. In total, we walked around 10 miles over the 8 hours that we explored during the day.

I don’t feel compelled to buy many souvenirs when traveling because I have my camera that documents my travels. But Portugal is known for its bags and wallets made of cork, so when I found a wallet that I really liked, I couldn’t help but make the splurge! Now, I have my own part of Portugal with me wherever I travel.

Though we were sad to go, we are so excited to return. We are going to travel with a local group to Lagos, Portugal in April for a beach weekend and couldn’t be more excited to return! Portugal has totally taken my heart and I can’t wait for the upcoming travels to different parts of Spain, Morocco, and Italy!

Kathryn Miyahira is a student at St. Michael’s College and an official API Student Blogger. Kathryn is studying abroad with API in Seville, Spain.

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