A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
As promised a few weeks ago, here the first post about our Honours College trip to Lisbon.
Our program in Lisbon was packed with meetings, field research and discussion rounds. From organizations working with victims of crime to interviewing people on the streets,
from meetings with a Member of the Portuguese Parliament to a discussion with the head of research at the High Commission for Migration. There was a lot to do, ask, listen to and discuss. And in between a few metros, trams and buses to catch.
We set out to research how the Portuguese Immigration Policies shaped Society. While doing so, we also found out that a city built on 7 hills (or was it 6 hills, or 8 of them?) means walking up-hill most of the times. Our walking tour through Portuguese History of Immigration took us up the winding streets of the old town and somehow every restaurant we had reservations for turned out to be on top of that hill on the other side of town.
The metro system (which, who would have guessed, can only be reached by either climbing up a hill or taking many stairs down the same hill) took us to the other destinations of our visit: a mosque, an organization working with homeless people, the High Commissioner for Migration and the Parliament.
I was part of the organization committee of the trip and our job was to usher the group in and out of the meeting rooms (and to find these rooms at the first place. Hint: google maps works kind of ok, but be aware of major shortcuts that you can take with a few stairs that don’t show up on google) and make sure that the group was well fed during the four days of our visit.
When planning the trip, we were slightly frustrated as virtually none of the organizations replied to our meeting requests. With this annoying feeling in the back of my mind, I was surprised by the result of our organization work though. We somehow managed to put a diverse program together and it was great to talk to all those people that made time in their busy schedules to welcome a bunch of university students and talk to them about their work.
The study trip was a real working visit, with long days and a lot of information to digest. Luckily, we will have a return meeting in a few weeks to bring together our findings and summarize them.
In retrospect, I would have wished for some more time in between program points to reflect on what we learned. Small breaks to enjoy the view before heading to the next meeting would have allowed us to gather energy for the next climb and yet another discussion.