In Portugal, once you have graduated high school, you have a more defined sense of what you want to study and what you want to do with a degree. When you start school at a university, you more than likely start to go to your chosen faculty to follow the career path you want.
In my case, I was accepted to the University of Lisbon (ULisboa) and to the Facultade de Letras (FLUL), which is the faculty, or school, you attend when you want to pursue a career in humanities. Since I am studying Portuguese, I’m specifically part of the Institute of Portuguese Culture and Language (ICLP.)
I was originally told to pick a time block of 8am to 12pm, or 2pm to 6pm, and because I was used to going to morning classes at UNM I had originally chosen the morning block. Of course, my first day I actually ran late because I took the wrong bus (oops! also, the subway is way better!), but once I got there, I had to find my name on one out of like 25 rosters in which your classes and professors, as well as classroom are already set in place. I ended up having to have my classes in the block of 2pm to 6pm, which was a total blessing in disguise because I don’t have to wake up super early. Unlike back at home, I have the same group of classmates for all of my classes, all classes are all in the same classroom and I only have two professors who teach all five of my classes and the block of immersion activities (more on this later!) I must admit, this is nice and apparently this is how all classes usually work, the same classmates, the somewhat the same professors and mostly the same classrooms, no matter what discipline or in what faculty you’re studying.
I only have classes Monday through Thursday and only 2 classes a day. Which isn’t as easy as it sounds. The professors took less than 10 minutes going over the syllabus for each class and during that first week I already had a pile of worksheets, homework and the final project for one class to start working on. It’s super intense but super great because I have a feeling I will be fluent by the end of semester. Yay!
Also, I’ve learned recently, every faculty has its own library, cafeteria, papelería (where you can buy school supplies, magazines, books and refreshments), student help center, and even their own bar! A lot of the professors and students can be seen hanging out throughout the faculty, studying in the halls, in the patios, having a coffee (which is basically a shot of espresso), a pastry or a meal, a beer or a cigarette during their breaks between classes or as they are getting out. There is also a main SUB-type place and a main library for the whole school as well as a field where people can play sports.