Launched in 2012, the UMass in Lisbon program is the only residential study abroad program in Portugal managed directly by a major public American university, providing unrivaled access to one of the world’s most strategic centers of language and culture.
The program offers American students the opportunity to spend a summer, a semester or year in the vibrant capital city of Lisbon, learning about the vast Portuguese-speaking world and European Union on a cultural immersion context.
In partnership with the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTEIUL) students have a wide array of curricular choices in English available, including UMass courses taught on site by both UMass and Portuguese faculty, aimed to deepen the students’ knowledge of the many cultural aspects of the Lusophone world and Portugal in a global context.
Professor Michael Baum, Director of UMass in Lisbon, is very happy with the first year of the program. “ISCTE-IUL was an exemplary host. Besides bringing American students to study at ISCTE, the UMass in Lisbon students shared our courses and the student residence with Erasmus students, encouraging and enriching intercultural learning opportunities for all. Accordingly to the feedback that we have received from the students, it seems that we will have more participants in the future. I want to also emphasize the precious support we received from the Luso-American Foundation and its (former) president, Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, without whom none of this would have been possible,” he said.
Throughout the program students are encouraged to participate in various initiatives within and outside the academic environment, which include visits to various parts of the country, learning Portuguese language, sports activities, cultural visits, so that they can fully enjoy Lisbon’s culture and life style.
According to Dr. Luis Reto, Rector of the ISCTE-IUL, the goal is to provide students with a learning environment that provides them with a global view. “We want our campus functioning as a mirror of the global society in which we live, so we want to open it to the world. Through this program, we reverse the rule, and bring the American students to Lisbon to know and to learn the modern reality of our country and our school,” he said.
Since the first edition, starting in the Fall semester of 2012, until the current Spring semester of 2014, the UMass in Lisbon program has brought 37 students to the Portuguese capital from different Schools across the country. The program has hosted students from the various UMass campuses, including the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (IL), Lehigh University (PA), Allegheny College (PA), SUNY (NY) and Hampden-Sydney College (VA).
For Irene de Pina, from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and a UMass in Lisbon Fall’12 participant, it was a rewarding challenging experience. “I have learned to challenge myself. Everyone gets nervous and anxious, but I constantly remind myself to just take a deep breath and dive in. When I studied abroad in Lisbon, Fall 2012, I was extremely nervous because I was going alone,” she said.
Irene also said she returned home with a new found confidence gained from studying abroad. “I learned a new culture firsthand and learned a new language. Learning to adapt to a strange environment was quite scary but ultimately worthwhile once I became comfortable with the country. The experience expanded my horizons and views of the world. Having the opportunity to learn how another country manages their citizens, schools, and businesses was extremely meaningful and scholastic,” she said.
The program is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Portuguese Studies with the support of the Luso-American Development Foundation (FLAD), the Saab Family Foundation and TAP Air Portugal.
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