Case Study: Joshua Binfor – Lisbon, Portugal 2019-20


As part of my year abroad, I spent 7 months in Lisbon working as a translation and communication intern. My initial and main goal was to immerse myself in Portuguese as much as possible. Although I arrived in Lisbon already having an intermediate level of Portuguese (B2), my understanding of Portuguese was tested to a new level, and I essentially lived the language. I arrived at the beginning of June which was an excellent time to familiarise myself with the city. The weather was perfect and there were so many events to choose from. Despite the fact that I had already visited the city before, this would be the first time living in the city for an extended period of time.


At my work, I was able to learn and explore new professional areas. I was able to develop my translation skills while working with professionals. I mainly translated documents from Spanish and Portuguese into English, and I was able to apply my skills to different types of translation. Not only did I learn many translation skills, but I also took care of the social media of the company which taught me many valuable skills about media management.


Portuguese literature is one of the best worlds I now have access to. I enjoy literature and reading in general but reading in another language is an amazing experience. Reading in Portuguese was very taxing at the beginning because I had to look up many words as my vocabulary was not very large. My favourite Portuguese book O Universo num Grão de Areia [The Universe in a Grain of Sand], written by Mia Couto, is a book of short essays that touches on so many issues without making the issues overly academic or complicated.  Not only was I exposed to Portuguese culture, but I also got a glimpse into Mozambican culture, where both histories are intertwined.

I had the chance to travel to the north and south of Portugal which were very different experiences. The north is must colder and has Portugal’s second biggest city Porto. There is a huge art community in Porto and a rich cultural history. In the south, I visited the Algarve which is renowned for its beaches and for the beautiful walks. While the country is not huge the contrasts make from excellent holidays. Though Lisbon has a lot of charm it does not show the full range of Portuguese culture; therefore, it is worth visiting other places outside of the capital.


What really stood out for me was the friendly nature of the Portuguese people. Even though I was in a capital city, I had many conversations with Portuguese people in cafes, in taxis and at bus stations. Speaking to people directly always helps when learning about recent Portuguese history. I have made many lifelong friends and I hope to stay in contact with them.


There have been many people who has supported me on my studies, and the Trust is one of those who has helped me through the process. In its on way, writing a report each month helped me to keep track of my progress and achievements and it helped me to value my experience in Portugal.


I am very grateful for the opportunity I have had in Lisbon and I hope others are able to have a similar experience.


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