As expected, following on from the experiences and adventures of the first half of this program, Lisbon and the Border Crossings course have proved to be even more remarkable. Classes for this period covered topics ranging from the development of Portugal in terms of empire and migration, the aesthetics of migration, human trafficking, EU and US stances on Migration and Refugees, Turkish responses to Syrian refugees and the concept of urban security. Again, these classes were delivered by incredible lecturers who were so informative and welcoming of our questions and discussions. I have been so grateful for the diversity of topics and perspectives that we have encountered in these past 3 weeks. Coming from a country that does not entertain the conversation of refugees and seeking asylum very well, I found it to be extremely beneficial not just to my personal University studies, but my self-awareness of these issues as I continue to travel, and when I return home.
Similar to the sentiment of my last post, these classes were accompanied by incredible field trips, most notably our visit to the Navy Base, Quinta do Mocho and a refugee Housing Center. The Navy Base experience was far more insightful than I had originally anticipated. We were able to learn what role the Portuguese Navy play in regional FRONTEX operations and their own responses to refugees and asylum seekers. We also went on a walking tour of an incredible urban art gallery in the neighborhood of Quinta do Mocho. It was incredible to see a part of Lisbon that up until 5 years ago, was seen as too dangerous for ‘outsiders’ to enter. Now, it is welcoming and home to some of the most impressive street art I have personally ever seen. The growth of this area was very impressive, yet also amazing to see how segregation and borders can be so present in today’s society. The pinnacle of these field trips, for me, had to be the visit to the Refugee Housing Center. It truly was an amazing experience to see first-hand the work being done to accommodate refugees, and help them in their settlement process. All together I found them to compliment the in-class sessions perfectly.
Along with the comprehensive academic side of things, again we had the opportunity to enjoy the city and its surroundings, immersing ourselves in the culture, and really just having a great time. One way we did this was on our accompanied trip to Setúbal, a small coastal town with a strong fishing background that is opening up more-and-more to tourism. Whilst there, we had an awesome lunch of fresh grilled seafood, a real tradition in the Lisbon area. We also tried out the beaches, catching a ferry to the other side of the harbor to enjoy a relaxing day in the sun, stress-free. The Sunday following, as it was a free day, myself and a couple others made the trip to Belém to visit the discoveries monument, the Belém Tower, the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, and, of course, we treated ourselves to some of the famous Pastéis de Nata. The final night was also a highlight of the second half of this program as it was our last time to enjoy traditional Portuguese cuisine and spend time together before we all parted ways. It was a great night, but honestly really bittersweet as we would all be departing the next day.
It’s amazing how close you can become to people within such a short amount of time, and I feel very lucky to say I am leaving this program, not just with a greater understanding of the world, but with 9 incredible new friends. I also think it’s important to note the overwhelming feeling of gratitude towards our program coordinator's Manuel, Janine and Ines. Without them, we would not have had the opportunity to meet the incredible lecturers and guests that presented, nor had the outings and cultural experiences that allowed me to fall in love with Lisbon. They worked so hard, and because of them and my fellow peers, I really had the most incredible time abroad and would definitely recommend this experience to others.
My name is Katelyn Jones, I'm 22 years old and in my third year at the University of Wollongong. I am studying a Bachelor of International Studies with a minor in Italian and majoring in International Relations, and I will also be completing a Diploma of Languages in French. Travelling is my number one passion. I love experiencing different cultures and languages, exploring new places and, of course, trying new food! I'm also really interested in understanding the way the world works, which is why I decided to study International Relations and why I will be doing this course on Global Migration.