The streets of Lisbon, Portugal.

I’m not going to lie, when I finally landed in Lisbon after a good 36 hours of flying and layovers, I felt less like a travelling student and more like a freshly born calf landing ‘Kaplonk!’ in a grass field and wondering ‘what the heck is this place they call planet Earth? And why is it so hard to walk?’ But! Fourteen hours of sleep, a continental buffet and a sangria later… I was feeling amazing. And when I met the bunch of twenty-four students doing the Empowering Women in the 21st Century course with me, I knew that I was in for an amazing time. 

A typical day would include making our way to buffet breakfast at our hostel and then a 15-minute train ride to the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE). There, we would be welcomed with friendly staff and an incredible spread of morning tea, including a coffee machine… No, I’m not joking. We sipped espressos all morning whilst we learned about the empowerment of women, their status as a tool for change and on a more urgent matter, their disadvantage in the public, social and political sphere and how we can achieve a more gender equal society.

Me in front of the Rua Augusta Arc in the Praca do Commercio, Lisbon, Portugal.

One of the most amazing things about the course was that you knew that after your lectures you would be venturing out into the city to visit something amazing. From the Portuguese Naval Army base to Praca do Commercio (pictured above) there was always an incredible incentive to get through those early morning lectures. The day would often be finished with a homecooked meal at our hostel over a nice glass of Portuguese red wine. Some of my best memories of the course were bonding with fellow students as we cooked up a storm in the kitchen, throwing cumin and thyme about like professional cooks.

Palacio de Pena (The Pena Palace), Sintra, Portugal.

This palace is a UNESCO world heritage site and an amazing expression of 19th century romanticism which we visited one Saturday. The day was quite cold and dreary, and I felt like I had truly landed back in 19th century Moorish rule. As I walked within the castle walls I imagined waiters in waistcoats serving food at the dining table, horses in the stables escaping the drizzling rain, and Portuguese royalty wandering the hallways in romantic dress. I wouldn’t have changed the weather at all. This visit was topped off by THE best hot chocolate I have ever had AND the cheapest (1.5 Euros!). I urge anybody who visits the palace to try the hot chocolate at the café there. Just let the hot, melted chocolate run down your throat and warm your soul.

Cascais, Portugal.

It is obvious to see that should you delve into the wonders of an AIM Overseas program in Portugal, you will visit some of the most aesthetically pleasing architecture and scenery that ever existed. But I cannot express enough my gratitude for the friends I made overseas, the people that did the course, the staff that worked with our group at ISCTE (University Institute of Lisbon), and the incredibly diverse group of travellers that passed through the hostel throughout our stay. As you exchange stories, build friendships and learn about the world through somebody else’s eyes, you are enlightened and stimulated, your heart becomes full, you have an appreciation for just how diverse this world is, but you also come to appreciate what you have at home. There is absolutely no downside to study overseas.

On a more personal note, for those of you who mightn’t think you have the confidence to travel and study overseas, take it from someone who is not really a fan of change, a girl who likes to know exactly how her day will turn out, that you will come to feel at home in your surroundings. I shall share with you a life changing moment in my trip that I documented in my diary. It reads:

“One of the most amazing parts of overseas study is that you can connect to yourself on deeper level. You can discover the grass roots of who you are and the goals you need to set yourself, what it means to live truly in the moment, not in the future and not in the past, just the smell of locally cooked kebabs, the feel of sand moving through your toes, the sight of bright blue skies surrounding the ancient buildings that stand above you, and the feel of a cold beer against your lips. I have learnt to accept that change is constant, and it is inevitable. It is the essence of life. Study overseas will be incredible if you surrender to the winds of change and ride them willingly.” 

By Brooke Jones

---------------------------------------------------------

Have you visited Portugal? Leave your favourite places in Portugal below! 👇

Keen to find out more about the program Brooke participated in (Empowering Women in the 21st Century)? CLICK HERE

Hi my name is Brooke and I study a Bachelor of Justice Studies, majoring in Human Rights at the University of Tasmania. I am a born and bread Tasweigan but my academic interests lie in social justice issues, internationally, nationally and locally. My greatest passion is justice for those affected by human trafficking and the child sex slave industry. The benefits of studying women's empowerment in Portugal were immeasurable as I learnt about women's vulnerability all over the world and the importance of intersectionality. I am forever grateful for the opportunity AIM Overseas gave me to develop my passion for human trafficking through the lense of women's empowerment.