Yes, folks. You heard it here. Coffee is 50 cents in Portugal. Did I entice you with my all-caps title?? Thought so. Full disclosure, 50 cents in euros in more like 56 cents in USD. But still, cheap as all get out.
The coffee is really just the tip of the iceberg concerning economic differences between the US and Portugal. At first glance, it’s very enticing to drool over cheap prices in Portugal when buying food, clothes, and especially when hearing about college tuition. But living here and coming to know Portuguese people changes your mindset in regards to exactly what such cheap prices imply.
The best example of these implications come from my internship, which is in neuroscience research at Universidade Lusófona. In Michigan, people often spend a good part of their adult lives saving so that their children can go to college. U of M is constantly building new facilities, receiving alumni donations, and improving technology around campus. Here, this is not the case. Most of the computers are from the 2004-2008 range, and buildings are older than a vast majority of those on Michigan’s campus. Our professors do not have subscriptions to many academic journals, and have to email other professors individually in order to gain access to them.
I’m not trying to knock Portuguese higher education in the slightest. Are state of the art computers and buildings necessities? Not by a long shot. And the US could learn a thing or two from their system, starting with the lower tuition. However, working here has allowed me to realize all the things we take for granted in the US and at UMich. We often forget that the US is regarded as a “world superpower,” and that standards of living (in a very materialist sense) are inflated.
On the logistic side of things, everything is going relatively well. I’m living with very close family friends outside of Lisbon, specifically with my Portuguese “Avó” (grandmother). I’ve been sick this week, unfortunately, and she’s been good about forcing me to do things I don’t want to do to get better, as my mother always does (ie soup, tea, eyedrops, medicine, etc. etc.) Though very slowly, my Portuguese is improving, and I’ve largely mastered navigation of the subways in Lisbon.
Now, in a desperate attempt to make this post not boring, I will insert a photo of chocolate Menthos. Yes, people, CHO-CO-LATE MEN-THOS. Whaaaaaaaaaaat??!?!
For their review, you’ll have to wait until the next blog post 😉 As a great woman (me) once said “suspense keeps ’em comin’.”