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Why Braga is a privilege for me - Ein besonderer Erfahrungsbericht

Why Braga is a privilege for me - Ein besonderer Erfahrungsbericht

Braga? Klingt interessant für dich? Gewinne hier ein paar besondere Eindrücke.

Richard hatte ein wunderbares Austauschsemester in Braga und erzählt in seinem Erfahrungsbericht von diesem: 


My name is Richard and I’m an Economics and Management student at the Leibniz University Hannover, Germany. I’ve been to a lot of different places in Europe and even in the whole wide world. When I came to Portugal for the first time a few years ago, it was so stunning for me that I wanted to come here a second time. I fell in love with the north of the country right away. Last year I was lucky enough to discover that my home university has a partnership with UMinho and look at me now – here I am! Or should I rather say here I was because my stay is almost over? Either way, this time abroad has changed my life and here is why.

Erasmus is fun, Erasmus is a time to enjoy but it is also a challenge. There is a lot to organize, there is a whole unknown world ahead. It is an overall adventure. This challenge gets you out of your
comfort zone and makes you become a stronger person. Braga has been the perfect place to make this experience for many reasons.

First there is this enormous number of people that took care of me. From the International Office to the Academic Coordinator and all the teachers, there were so many friendly faces, always thinking about what is best for Erasmus students. I remember my academic coordinator telling us in the first meeting that Portuguese people are very shy and that we should take the first step towards them. And even if there might be some truth in it, I have to say that I have never met so many open-minded people who just see you as who you are and not as someone else or different than themselves. There are the volunteers from the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Minho for example who are actually supposed to organize events and help you to get along in Braga, but they are so much more than that. Not only that they were the first ones for me to talk to when I arrived but some of them have really become close friends in that short period of time. But also in class I found some amazing people who took me to lunch with them and helped me with every lecture. While I spent most of the time with other international students, it meant a lot to me to be with locals, too because it really makes you understand the Portuguese a little bit better. 

Speaking of events that were supposed to happen throughout the semester, I have to mention COVID-19 because it obviously had a great influence on my time since the current semester was very different than the previous ones. Although it may sound surprising in the first place, I have to say that all of this was a huge privilege for me. Even if there may have been less ESN activities and there was a curfew on most of the weekends, I was allowed to do a lot more than what I would have been allowed to in Germany and most other European countries at the same time. The bars and restaurants were open which is very nice to have  but most importantly there were face-to-face taught classes. I never valued them very much but spending almost 7 months in front of my desk before coming here, has made me so thankful for every minute in the university. And COVID-19 did not stop me or anyone else from having fun. Although it is important to stick to the rules, there is no shame in going out and having a great time. Despite some traveling restrictions, I have been to Lisbon, Porto, Faro, the Minho river and many more locations throughout Portugal but also in Ourense, Vigo, and Pontevedra in Galicia in Spain without any troubles. I would also like to add that I haven’t even met anybody who was infected in five months now. This shows that having fun does not have to be the opposite of a responsible way to deal with this pandemic as long as it is appropriate.

The last months have undeniably been the craziest of my life in any sense. I am deeply thankful for what I was able to do and to experience. I would like to send a giant Muito obrigado to all the people that I have met in this lovely city. I hope that I can come back soon for a sunset at Bom Jesus and some Pastéis de Nata.