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The Long Study Tour

I sit here in Terminal 1 of Lisbon’s airport, rounding off one of the best weeks of my entire life (and easily my favorite destination in the entire world). Welcome to my chronicle of my Long Study Tour – DIS Abroad’s magnum opus, and the source of some of my now-favorite memories.

Through my Medical Biotechnology and Drug Development class, we took a study tour from Copenhagen to the sun-washed paradise of Portugal. First of all, let me just say that having a (mostly) all-expenses paid trip was already awesome. But having it in Portugal?


There’s a reason Portugal has been on my bucket list for so long. Since I first registered for this course back in November, I have been beside myself with anticipation for this trip, and it eclipsed my expectations. Our trip was during the second travel week period in late April, where the weather warmed up significantly, the sun stayed out forever, the plants were in full bloom, and my favorite foods were in season. It was amazing.

Our program was led by our professor Daniela as well as the Biomedicine program head, Susanna, who is from Portugal. So it was like having a tour guide with us all the time.

My sluggishness from flying out of Copenhagen at 6 AM on a cold, rainy morning was quickly dispelled by the warm sunshine and sprawling greenery as we touched down in Porto. We dropped off our luggage, had lunch, and immediately embarked on a wine tour.

One of my favorite things about traveling with only a few plans is the fact that you can take as many detours as you want to see the things that interest you. While we could’ve taken a bus to our port wine tasting, we decided to take an hour-long jaunt through Porto and along the beautiful bridges overseeing the meandering river, soaking up the sunshine and occasional breeze. Seeing the characteristic Mediterranean shingle rooftops layered out below us, all the way down to the bright blue water, was so stereotypical that I felt like I was watching a travelogue.

We spent the sunsets in Porto either on the beach, or on the rooftops throughout the city. More pictures below. This place was so cool.

But the highlight of the city was our lunch on day two, where we had a delightful meal and unlimited sangrias and various fruit juices.

…and it was on the beach. And there were dolphins swimming in the distance. And it was sunny and warm with a beautiful breeze. AND DIS covered it.

This was honestly the best meal experience of my entire life. If you ever find yourself in Porto, you have to go to Restaurante Praia Homem do Leme. Thank me later.

We briefly visited the city of Coimbra for a cool science museum and what was once the King’s personal library, which had its own colony of bats as a form of pest control.

The second city of our itinerary was Lisbon, which we spent three nights in. There is so much to see and do here, and while we explored a lot, there are so many more underrated places to experience, from beautiful food stalls that are on the sides of buildings to streets full of colorful buildings and even more colorful personalities that just exist off the beaten path, tucked away in the narrow streets that make this city so charming. But the major destinations are just as amazing, too – Pink Street and its wild street actors, the Castelao de San Jorge and its peacocks, terraces, and beautiful sunset views, and the beautiful promenade where you can see the 25 de Abril bridge (read: a fake Golden Gate Bridge).

Our program took us through a “secret” food tour highlighting all of the best places to try Portuguese cuisines, from petiscos (Portuguese tapas) to the infamous pastel de nata.

I think the highlight of my visit to Lisbon, however, was my day trip to the nearby town of Sintra. It is a small town in the mountains near the city, and is full of sprawling castle complexes and incredibly gorgeous architecture nestled among the vibrant greenery. Similar to Parc Güell in Barcelona, these buildings were built to take advantage of their natural landscape. Various palaces and parks dot the surroundings of this town – my personal favorite was the Palacio de Monserrate, a Moorish-inspired castle complex and park.

Now, a word on academics. While the greatest memories I have of this trip are the places we saw and the activities we did, our class met with a variety of leading researchers and professionals in Portugal that really helped to enhance our education in a practical fashion. As a part of the Biomedicine class, we heard from leading professionals in the field, including a number of people who were in administrative roles of their own startups or innovation communities.

It was a great chance to learn about how medicine is developed in various places, as Copenhagen and Portugal had very different approaches to their drug development process. From the way they collaborate to the directions that their research takes them, having had the chance to meet with such a varied group of people opened my eyes to some of the career options available to me as a student interested in healthcare and making a difference.

Our Long Study Tour to Portugal was the highlight of my experience studying abroad. Touring a beautiful country, experiencing a culture unlike any I’ve ever been in contact with before, learning from myriad professionals, and growing closer with my friends was a universally wholesome experience and one that I will never forget.

Last group selfie of the trip

Looking at the calendar now, it’s starting to hit me how close to the end of this wonderful semester we are. I’m hoping to make the most of each day that I have left here in Europe. Stay tuned to hear more!


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