This year I have chosen Lisbon, Portugal where I have been accepted into General Surgery department. I have been there in august and the weaher could not possibly be better. I advise to buy the flying tickets beforehand altough they are not that expensive. You could fit into 300e even if you buy them a month before. I got a contact for the Local Officer (LO) in April. He was very responsive altough most of the communication happend in July. Later Facebook group and google excel document with our dates of arrivals and responsible Contact persons (CP) to pick us up was created. Everyone was picked up by a CP at the airport and was shown way to the student dormitory. CPs also showed us basic stuff like shops, where to buy monthly public transport tickets etc. We were living in in student dormitory even though in my acceptance letter it was written that we would live in a hostel. We were living in bunks of two people. Many of us were accommodated with other IFMSA students (it was around 35 of us) but some were with other students living in the dorm. Everyone was really nice so it was not a problem.
The Portugese people are very nice and helpful. The CPs showed and explained everything to us. Everytime we had some sort of problem or a question they were available to us. I personally was assigned into a wrong department (gastroenterology instead of general surgery). I contacted the LO and everything was sorted out within three days. The hospitals were located in old monasteries so they looked kinda used, however the equipment was in very good quality. Most of the doctors spoke English and they were attentive. I was in Hospital Curry Cabral in General Surgery department that focused mostly on hepatopancreaticobilliary surgeries. In the department you had to be active and ask to get to do something. When you did ask and seemed to be interested in the topic the doctos were very helpful. If they had a feeling you dont care, they did not care about whether you are there or not. We scrubbed in for some of the operations, however many of them were complicated and there were already three doctors so we only observed, but it still was very interesting, since I have seen many of the procedures for the first time. If you are lucky you could even see a liver transplant (I was not).
You get your lunches in hospital‘s caffeteria. You get soup, main dish (you can generally choose from four options), fruit or cake as a dessert and all you can eat vegetables. It cost around 4euros and in some hospitals the lunch is even cheaper. You can also eat in the dormitory for 2,5euro, however the meals are somewhat smaller and you can only chose from two. For the dinners we usually cooked together in the dormitory kitchens. However, if u want to go eat out I recommend to go to Tasca’s. They are usually small and full of portugese people. The food is very good and usually cheap. But be advised the place does not look like an usual restaurant so do not get discouraged by the looks of the place.
The National social program and local social program are very well organised. During the National social program we were in Porto for the weeknd and in some places in Lisboa. I would definetly recommend to go to the Porto National social program and skip the program in Lisboa since you can see it on your own and plan your own trips. As for the local social program everyday there was some event going on. We went surfing, had tours to the different parts of the city, went to see the westernmost place of Europe, went to the beach, to parties and so on. The program was very flexible.
The thing I enjoyed most about Lisboa and Portugal in general were the people and the weather. Everyone was very friendly and relaxed. The weather was simply great. During the day it was around 28°C and during night it was around 20°C. Since it is near the Atlantic ocean the city is always a little bit windy so it is rarely too hot.
Lisboa is simply a great place to visit, and I must say I fell in love with the place!