With my last week coming up, I have had nothing short of a fantastic time here in Porto, and have learned a great deal not only about the amazing food, architect, culture, but how both the day to practice of medicine is practiced outside the US and in a “socialized” system.
Here are some things that will make your life easier.
1. If you are a very timid and shy person, this may not be the rotation for you. Partly because it is a completely different country and your attendings are very busy and won’t have time to always hold your hand. You definitely need to embrace a certain level of independence, and don’t mind struggling, or getting lost, and having conversations in three languages (as in my case)
2. When you talk to Dr. Felix about the trip, she will give you an application; make sure and fill that out and. Also be prompt in getting housing at World SPRU Porto as it can fill fast.
3. Even though I sent my application 6 months in advance to Porto, I did not get my welcome packet to Porto from the international office until 2 weeks into my stay. I think in hindsight I should have re-contacted the office by email closer to my arrival. The reason this is key is so that you can get your Student ID, tourism map and guide (probably the most useful of the information you get) as well as a free SIM card for your phone which will really get around the city
4. The student ID gets you into many museums for free, as well as allow you to get access to all the facilities connected to the University of Porto, which the international office will explain to you. Moreover, the SIM card is through the ERASMUS (international exchange program for European students); therefore if you meet other students you can talk to them for free through the Network. Dr. Basto can help you if you help putting money on the account.
7. Remember to bring a copy of your passport any two passport photos with you when you come. One will be for your University of Porto School of Medicine registration when you get here, as well as for your student ID.
8. Try to learn some European Portuguese; I think people actually appreciated it. And for as difficult a language to pick up in my opinion, having some familiarity in Spanish will be an advantage. Beside you will find more people wanting to talk with you because it gives people more opportunities to practice their English. In fact English is compulsory in most Portuguese schools.