Summer Abroad Portugal - On Site

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Portugal—Hidden Gem


Porto (population: 240,000; metro area: 1.5 million) is the second-largest city in Portugal, and one of the Iberian Peninsula’s economic and cultural hubs. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porto was founded by the Romans, is historically rich, and visually, reflects centuries of social, political, and cultural evolution. Located at the estuary of the Douro River, Porto is also a city of great natural and architectural beauty, and is the production and distribution center for the region’s world famous Port wine and red and white table wines. Students will stay in the Alberto Amaral dormitory at the University of Porto, within walking distance to the Faculty of Letters, where we will have our classes.

Students will be housed in either individual or shared rooms and will have access to laundry facilities and WiFi. Check out the University of Porto. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be eaten on campus for very reasonable prices. Students will have access to all student cafeterias. Porto’s city center is located within walking distance or an even shorter bus ride from the university campus. UC Davis reserves the right to change the accommodation location. Should this be necessary, we will arrange comparable lodging. 


Meals during the week can be eaten on campus at any one of the university’s cafeterias, or in town, as the student prefers. Weekend meals will be included in the cost of our weekend excursions. Porto has a wide variety of excellent and affordable dining options, including restaurants, cafés, bakeries, and so on.

Portugal has a rich culinary tradition. You can learn about it here and here. The University of Porto cafeterias offer a variety of menus, including vegetarian options. More information.

Excursions and Day Trips

On most weekdays, class will meet in the morning and early to mid-afternoon at the University of Porto. A break will be given for lunch. Afternoons will often include guest talks or guided excursions. Weekday and long weekend excursions include:

  • Lisbon, Portugal’s capital and famed “white city”
  • The Douro Valley, the heart of Portuguese wine country
  • Portugal’s northern Atlantic coast
  • The rolling hills of the rugged Alentejo region, including a weekend at the beach
  • The famous Port wine caves (warehouses) in Porto
  • Visits to museums, monuments, churches, and performance spaces in Porto
  • At least one fado musical performance
  • A possible excursion to Porto’s Estádio do Dragão, home of Porto FC

Study Abroad Advisory of Student Risk

Participation in this UC Davis Study Abroad program requires travel to and extended living in a foreign location(s) abroad. UC Davis Study Abroad endeavors to reduce and mitigate risk wherever possible.  However, the environments and risks associated with living in these locations are substantially different than those found during a regular course of study at UC Davis. All participants must download and review the following information prior to departure. Any questions should be directed to the Program Coordinator.

Study Abroad General Risk Advisory

Program Specific Risk Advisories (PDF)

About Portugal

"Medieval castles, cobblestone villages, captivating cities and golden beaches: the Portugal experience can be many things. History, great food and idyllic scenery are just the beginning…

Porto is a historic and varied city, from the warren of narrow streets that make up the ancient Ribeira district through to the grand plazas of the Avenida dos Aliados. The region is famed for the production of Port, which is still stored in the vast cellars that stretch along the banks of the mighty Douro River." Lonely Planet—Portugal:

Read about Portugal's Douro river region: The world's most stunning wine region?

Currency: Euro

Language Spoken: Portuguese

Weather and Climate

Porto has a temperate, coastal climate, with high summer temperatures averaging 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and lows around 59. Weather varies somewhat by region. We recommend that you bring warm weather clothes, with a couple of cooler weather options for nighttime. Bring swimwear as well. July is generally dry. 

Research Your Destination

Summer Abroad endeavors to provide you with as much accurate information as possible. However, information can change daily. It is your responsibility to become acquainted with your host country before your departure.

We have listed some good starting points for your personal research. 

Keeping in Touch

Since communication options can vary dramatically from country to country, Summer Abroad advises checking with the instructor or the Program Specific Guide for advice about what might be the best option for your particular program.

Calling the U.S. from Abroad

Many U.S.-based long distance phone companies provide special services that make it easy for you to phone home from abroad. Some provide toll-free access numbers that connect with an operator in the U.S. Some provide the means to charge long distance calls to a credit card or to a third party. Some provide better long distance rates. Others provide access to emergency, medical, legal, translation, and entertainment information. Students are encouraged to investigate these options before departure and to shop for the best services and rates.

Global Cell Phones

Most cell phone companies can sell you a special global cell phone with the option to add more minutes as needed. Also, most cell phone companies can unlock your cell phone for global use, but this requires a trip to a provider at your destination who will give you a SIM card and sell you minutes. Check with your cell phone provider for more information. Global cell phones are also available through travel agencies and online. Be sure to check the policies for both incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.

Cell Phone Rental

Some students choose to rent a cell phone that works at their destination. Some companies will ship the phone directly to the student in advance of the program dates—and include a packet for sending the phone back when they return. Interested students can locate service providers via the Internet.

Phone Cards

Many travel agencies and specific phone providers carry great options for phone cards. Check the rates available from your long distance provider. You can often buy phone cards on site.


Skype is a computer program that you can download for free that allows you to talk (for free) on the phone over the Internet with anyone else who has Skype. Go to to download the program. For an extra fee (as low as .02 cents/minute) you can enable your Skype to call land lines instead of just other computers. You will need a microphone and headset so that you can talk to the person on the other line. Skype also includes a chat option for instant messaging.

Instant Messaging Systems

Instant messaging systems are also a great free way to communicate with people back in the states. There are numerous options for messaging systems from AOL Instant Messenger to Yahoo Messenger. Just about every messaging program can be downloaded for free online.

Internet Access

Computer and internet access varies by program. Information for your site will be listed in your Program Specific Guide.

Internet access is offered in all the countries we go to, but the reliability of it differs from program to program. Internet can be accessed through internet cafes. Some programs also offer access through the dorms or on-campus computer labs. Internet cafes are very reasonably priced and often times have various instant messaging programs installed and headphones available to chat with loved ones. Relying on internet cafes may reduce worry of bringing your own laptop with you. You can upload pictures at most internet cafes, but remember due to the speed of some connections, it may be a better idea just to bring multiple memory cards to avoid spending your whole day on the computer.

Cultural Learning

Living in a new culture can be exhilarating, rewarding, and stimulating. It can also be frustrating. It is one thing to tour a country, but it is quite another to live and function according to different norms. It is important to be open toward a new culture, to try to discard stereotypes, and to learn as much as possible about the culture before departure. If you educate yourself about the country you will be visiting, you will better understand and appreciate your new surroundings!

Even with preparation it is likely that you will experience "culture shock." Recent studies show that there are distinct stages of culture shock. Some of these stages include: awareness of the host culture and preparation, initial euphoria and excitement, irritability phase during acclimation, gradual adjustment, and adaptation to culture. Upon return to the United States, many students face "reverse culture shock."

There are some things you can do to minimize your cultural adjustment. Keep a sense of humor! Treat yourself to an occasional U.S. indulgence like a favorite food, or purchase a U.S. magazine or newspaper. Avoid other Americans who are overly negative or who complain a lot. Keep healthy. Above all, don't be afraid to try new activities!

Resources for Further Study

Ethical Considerations in Study Abroad