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By Xia Alexandra–

The anxiety that I felt when I finally arrived at the airport was real. Four weeks in a different country, with no familiar face but my own; that’s a big step, especially for me. But this is the moment I have been waiting for. I  have always wanted to travel, and travel alone. I also wanted to see a whole new part of the world, one different from the region I am familiar with.

The flight to Lisbon, Portugal is a piece of cake. I made friends with the young man sitting next to me. After a couple glasses of wine and some conversation, we realize that we are in the same program. Oh, wait, there also is another young lady who was at the gate before boarding, and she’s also is in our program. The flight lands and we make our way through customs together. This company’s making the process less intense since none of us has ever been to Portugal.  

We are finally in Lisbon! “Bom Dia Lisboa, meu nome é Xia!, Good morning Lisbon, my name is Xia,” haha.  At this point, all the anxieties have left and I am filled with satisfaction. Okay, time to snap out, it has happened already, back to reality. 

The program I was a part of gave me the opportunity to shadow physicians while in Lisbon. I shadowed them at local public hospitals and the experience was nothing short of amazing. I was able to observe surgeries and small procedures as well as observe how patient care and patient advocacy differs from the US. The hospitals in Lisbon were very similar to the hospitals in the United States, however, at public hospitals patients are not responsible for the payment of their services. I met amazing doctors who not only taught me much more than I could have imagined in such a short span of time but who also inspired me with their outlook on patient care and medicine.

My program also took us on weekly excursions.  Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in Europe. The buildings, castles, and palaces are centuries old and are still in use today. The people in Lisbon are diverse, friendly, and are open to tourists. They’re also really impressed and excited when visitors are open to learning about the Portuguese culture and language.
Vibrant Color and phenomenal views at the Palacio National de Pena, Sintra Portugal 
On our first week, we went on a walking tour of Alfama which is a very hilly part of Lisbon. On this tour, we got a glimpse of some great restaurants, Fado bars, hand-painted tiles, churches, and of course the São Jorge castle. 

Note: Fado is a special music played by the Portuguese. It is typically slow and melancholy sounding but quite soothing to hear during dinner or when sitting with a nice glass of wine.

We also visited Sintra and explored the Pena Palace. The details of this palace are surreal and pictures do not do it any justice. Also, adrenaline junkies, you will be able to climb most of the high castle towers and view the gorgeous landscape of Portugal.
Whatever you do, don’t look down
Soon after exploring Sinatra we went to the Moorish Castle which was very beautiful. However, it was very rocky and the rocks can be very slippery. So if you will be visiting, bring comfortable and supportive shoes.

Watch your steps as you walk from one side of the Moorish Castle to the next.

These towns are neighbors to each other and they are 15 minutes apart from each other both are about an hour outside of Lisbon. The beaches and views were beautiful, but the water was a bit cold, so I did not swim.

Beach in Portugal, beautiful but cold 

To Be Continued….

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