It’s about time to publish already my last blog about studying in Lisbon. I am sitting in the train now from Amsterdam to Maastricht, overthinking the period of my life that ended just yesterday. Time flew as I expected it to go and I am a little bit sad since I just came home again and realise I just left the life I built up in five months. However, there is so much to look forward to such as my family, Dutch friends, my girlfriend, the Dutch way of life, my thesis (Yes! You’ve read that right! I am so looking forward to finally start and finish my thesis between now and the 28th of August when I leave again for Montréal) that my sadness quickly makes place for excitement right at this moment. A lot has happened in the last few months, and I will try to put all those things in words.
First of all I have to admit that I made a tiny mistake in my last blog. ‘’I have a little bit more free time than in the first part of the semester’’ I stated. Well forget it; those last six weeks plus exam weeks after that were the hardest, I’ve had much to do! In those six weeks I had to finish four courses, involving a lot of presenting and group work. At the same time I still had to play with my football team every week, there were countless parties, the Champions League final was played in Lisbon, there was a national holiday with a lot of partying Portuguese right under my apartment, there were many goodbye parties and my girlfriend as well as some other friends came over to pay me visits. Had to miss a lot of great fun due to university work these weeks!
It gave such a good feeling that my first experience in being a consultant was a success. I remember the last 10 days before we had to present our results to the client. Because some things in the process did not go as expected, we had to work an additional 5 to 10 hours a day to meet the deadline. However the other three courses also required a lot of group work in those days with finalizing the last assignments. Therefore, I had several times where I had two meetings at the same time; it couldn’t be avoided. It gave some additional pressure which was actually not a bad thing. Like many of you who read this (I guess) I am one of those who performs better under some pressure. Our team happened to have a big and involving project while some other groups were less busy, but I can say that I learned a lot from it and it gave a good feeling when it was all done. I actually think that this experience has been the most useful one of everything I encountered in Lisbon.
Two courses that I really liked were Corporate Turnaround and Corporate Governance & Control. Both the teachers are very experienced in their field and therefore made it interesting, addressing real life examples. For Corporate Turnaround we discussed failures of corporations (Such as car brand MGRover or Barings Bank) and the reasons behind it, but also how to reverse the failure (such as Continental Airline which is now United Airlines). It turned out to be the last course that the professor Douglas Briggs ever gave, and I am happy to have learned from him. At CG&C we talked more about governance structures and aspects (such as board structures, independence of the board, subcommittees, etc.). Both courses were very interesting and went into depth in the subjects. The people I worked together with in the courses, mostly Portuguese but also German and Spanish, were great and work went very smooth.
The one course I liked less was Digital Marketing, simply because I am not that into marketing and I couldn’t always get along with my Portuguese team with whom I did group work. I am used to a different way of working than they were which sometimes gave some trouble. However, it all worked out fine in the end and it’s just another experience I have to learn from.
We had some great last football matches which gave us a place in the sub-top and I got to know some great guys by playing. So glad that I took the initiative for this, it was definitely worth it. However, since the work at the university was a bit much, I couldn’t bring myself to studying the children’s books in Portuguese that I talked about in my last blog. Therefore my Portuguese level is still somewhat basic which is also fine for me. Regarding my thesis I am very glad that the professor guiding me acts very flexible. I couldn’t really get far with it in Lisbon so now back home I have 2 months to do it. No holiday therefore, but I already took that in consideration and the last 10 days of my stay I went to do some sightseeing together with my girlfriend throughout Portugal! I figured that it would be serious times whenever I got back to the Netherlands and therefore I extended my stay a bit in that amazing country together with Dominique.
Next semester I will be writing about my time in Montréal, at HEC. I hope that you enjoyed reading and found the information that I provided useful. If you’re an upcoming student and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’d be happy to provide you all the information at the best of my knowledge.