Student Life



Studying abroad at SiPN merges concentrated learning with a broad range of new experiences that develop the student as an individual, frequently leading to growth in personal responsibility, maturity and increased intercultural competence. SiPN provides academic-oriented study tours so that students discover all that Portugal offers off the tourist-beaten path.

SiPN has designed its housing option so that opportunities for intercultural awareness are maximised. For example, wherever possible we try to have SiPN students housed on the same floor as other international and/or Portuguese students studying in Lisbon. We also invite these other mobility students along on our SiPN study tours on a space available basis, to deepen friendships and opportunities for intercultural learning.

The same is true for our classroom experience in the core curriculum classes, where other international and/or Portuguese students may enroll in our classes for academic credit. Furthermore, the SiPN Buddy Program matches our students with local Portuguese student volunteers who help our students integrate into local university social and academic life. Likewise, the Visiting Family Program matches local Portuguese families with those students who volunteer for this experience for a monthly get together in the family’s home.

All of these experiences are designed in such a way that students can take as few or as many classes in English as they need, but still have numerous opportunities for connecting deeply with Portuguese and other national cultures locally.

Studying Abroad isn’t just a fun way to spend a semester, it is quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy.” Michelle Obama



The SiPN program fee includes guaranteed double-occupancy housing in an international residence alongside other international and/or Portuguese students in downtown Lisbon. Our placements are in single rooms whenever possible, but we can only guarantee doubles.

The Residence

SiPN students are all housed in single or double rooms in a shared international student residence located in the heart of downtown Lisbon.

Our primary semester residence is 9 Student Living located in the Campo Pequeno neighbourhood, just minutes away from the main campuses of our partner universities. This 40-student residence enjoys a convenient location to classes and is a mixture of single and double rooms (which are larger), with shared baths (2 students per bathroom) and kitchens.

Open 24/7 with an on-site residence manager there during daytime hours, residents at 9 Student will encounter perks like:

  • WiFi (included)
  • Laundry and housekeeping services
  • Well-equipped kitchens (though no stove on the premises, sorry!)
  • Living areas that will allow you to feel like you’re at home the second you land in Portugal,
  • There is also a fantastic outside area where you can read, catch some sun and socialize with the other residents

SiPN’s primary residence is international, mixing Erasmus students from all over the globe as well as Portuguese university students from outside the capital. This provides for a truly cross-cultural living arrangement that will expand your horizons and circle of friends!


Each student will have access to a room equipped with a bed, a closet, a desk, bedclothes and towels. Rooms at 9 student are of comparable size and quality, except for the doubles which are much larger.

Shared Bathrooms – Two students per bathroom (same gender)

A shared bathroom exists in between two rooms. These are equipped with showers, toilets and wash-basins, suitable for the number of residents. The Residence does furnish toilet paper and liquid soap.

Shared Kitchen

The residence enjoys  a shared kitchen on each floor, equipped with an electric stovetop, microwave, toaster, refrigerator, plates, glasses and cutlery, pans and pots and kitchenware.

Meals can be cooked in the shared kitchens or there are inexpensive student cafeterias at all 4 of SiPN’s campuses. Our students enjoy access to any of the facilities of the schools in which they are registered for classes.

Living Room

9 Student has a nice common area downstairs and a lovely outside courtyard that is linked to a restaurant on the ground floor where residents can enjoy special pricing for meals.

Internet and Phone Service

High-speed internet is available throughout the building and rooms. This service is included in the monthly rent, but music and video downloads will impact your bandwidth available.

Wi-fi speeds are generally strong enough for downloading school materials and video calls, but speeds may be impacted by residential demand. Students accustomed to super-fast T1 download speeds available at all times and from every nook of home and campus may need to readjust their expectations slightly when in Portugal. That said, Portugal ranked 29th on the 2014 Akamei index of average internet speed and students will also enjoy access to the Eduroam wifi network on all 4 of the SiPN campuses. 

Those who wish to purchase extra 4G mobile internet access for an unlocked GSM smartphone may do so, but this cost is supported by the student. What SiPN provides all participants is a Portuguese SIM card that provides free SMS and calls to all Portuguese numbers (some exceptions apply) + 1 GB free 4G data/month. In Portugal receiving a call is always free, so family and friends’ calls from North America do not count against a maximum allotment of minutes per month.

Self Service Laundry

The self-service laundry is equipped with semi-industrial washing and drying machines. There are also irons and ironing tables available.

Prices: to each load – 3,50 Eur; to Dry – $1,50

General Safety

Safety is one of Lisbon’s strong points. In this respect the SiPN Residence will be similar to most US dorms. Students will have locked access to their building at all times as well as locked access to their individual rooms. Fire extinguishers and egress points are well-marked and house rules are clearly spelled out in our Housing Agreement form.

24h Surveillance

At 9 Student all residents have keys to the enter the building and their respective rooms. Residents enjoy closed-circuit video systems and fire detection infrastructure for added safety. 9 Student is a licensed and insured  student residence by the local municipal authorities.

Damage Deposits

SiPN has negotiated a special damage deposit fee for our students. This fee may be paid upon entrance in either USD or EUR and if no damages occur to your room nor assessments made for excess energy usage, that amount will be returned to you in full upon check-out. Details about energy monitoring and damages fees are made available upon arrival by the residence management on site.

Cleaning Services

A team cleans common spaces daily (except on Sunday) and rooms on a weekly basis, including change of bed clothes and towels.


At 9 Student there is a residence manager on site during daytime hours and telephone support for nighttime emergencies.

General Rules

Students are expected to observe the house rules regarding dishwashing and cleaning up after oneself. Failure to respect the rules of the residence can result in the forfeiture of your guaranteed housing placement. Students required to leave the official housing option will be notified in writing in advance of their date of expulsion and will be required to find their own outside housing option at their own cost. Guest privileges are reasonable but firmly enforced in order to protect the harmony of the collective group.

Note: SiPN-arranged housing is included during mid-semester breaks for those staying for the entire academic year.

Note 2: Rooms at these residences are only guaranteed to those who submit their deposits and payments by the program deadline. Latecomers will be accommodated on a space-available basis or if overflow housing is necessary, SiPN will work to find alternate housing that is similar in quality and conditions.

Study Tours and Cultural Agenda



Lisbon is a culturally rich city with a vibrant arts and music scene, a historic opera house, museums, concert venues, galleries, a dynamic cinemathèque, and more. Enjoy frequent visits to sites of historic and cultural importance, including the medieval walled towns of Óbidos and Sintra.

Besides the site visits and lectures in and around Lisbon, we also organize at least 2 trips/semester (or 1 per summer session) outside of Lisbon, so that students gain an understanding of the diversity of this country of 10 million. Previous trips have included overnight stays in Evora, a UNESCO world heritage site and lovely white-walled fortified city in the heart of the Alentejo region. There, students toured a working vineyard, learned about enotourism in Portugal, and saw how cork and olives are harvested, learning about the transformations in Portugal’s rural world that have come along with European integration.

On a trip to Coimbra and Porto, you might take a tour of Porto’s Casa da Musica, and tour the city with US expatriate and award-winning author Richard Zimler. While in Coimbra you will have a guided tour of one of the oldest universities in the world and its famous Joanina Library.

Check out the video “Study in Lisbon – Live, Love, Learn

SiPN instructors in the core curriculum often promote and organize various events to bring to life the contents taught in the classroom. Guest lectures and site visits that take advantage of Lisbon are encouraged in all of our classes. SiPN regularly organizes film & music series throughout the city in very unique venues (local associations, clubs, museums…) so as to engage the student with the topic while also showcasing the most interesting places in town, the majority of which off the typical tourist path.

Multicultural Learning


Students in the 21st century are expected to graduate with a variety of skills that go beyond disciplinary knowledge. Adaptability, cultural empathy, tolerance for ambiguity, strong intercultural communication skills, a collaborative work ethic, and intellectual curiosity are all valued in the complex landscape of international relations and global business

We, at SiPN, make sure all of our students experience a multicultural environment, not only you will be taking classes with other international and Portuguese students but you will also be sharing housing.

If you are the kind of student who wants to make a difference in the local community, SiPN can also connect you with organizations throughout Lisbon that are looking for volunteers.


Visiting Family Program

The Visiting Family Program (VFP) gives you the unique opportunity to dive into the experiences of families in the Lisbon area or its suburbs. SiPN will match you with a family with whom you will visit at least once a month during your semester-length stay.*

This VFP opportunity allows you to learn more about Portuguese culture as well as share your own. You will be a part of a wonderful intercultural exchange, which will help you build a network of friendships and contacts in Portugal!

Here are some fun activities that we have suggested to our visiting family volunteers students:

  • Engage in activities and day trips in Lisbon and the suburbs
  • Discuss cultural differences and ask questions
  • Meet extended family and participate in celebrations and events
  • Share cultural foods by cooking a meal together
  • Take part in various family routines
  • Visit the place of work of one of the members of the family

What Can I Expect by Joining the Visiting Family Program?

  • Communication is key! SiPN requires that all visiting family students are able to commit to making plans to see their visiting families at least once a month. Once SiPN has made the match and facilitated the contact, it is up to both parties to share the responsibility of meeting;
  • Some families ask to be matched with two students – so the Visiting Family Program could also present a chance to get to know another SiPN student;
  • Many visits with your visiting family can include meals, as this is a strong tradition in the Portuguese culture, as you will discover. It can be difficult to accommodate students who have dietary restrictions, so you should not expect to be matched according to this. However, we encourage you to use this as an opportunity to reveal a part of who you are with the family, by offering to help cook and share recipes!

Who are SiPN Visiting Families?

Our Visiting families are diverse. They may or may not have children, they might be single parents,  retirees, or have a large tight-knit extended family. All of them typically speak English fluently, but if your goal is to practice your Portuguese, you should make this clear during the placement process and SiPn will do its best to relay this information to our host families.

We try our best to match you with a visiting family that will share similar interests and want to engage in plans as often as both parties desire.

Who Can Sign Up for the Visiting Family Program?

All semester-length* students are encouraged to sign up! You will be given an opportunity to sign up during the application phase. If SiPN is unable to find a visiting family for you, you will be placed on a waitlist.

*Summer Session students staying at least 8 weeks in Portugal may also be accommodated in the VFP on a space available basis. Note that summer placements are inherently more difficult due to family holidays in July and August and so we cannot guarantee that everyone who wants a VFP placement will receive one in the summer months. Placements will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Ferreira Family Testimonial

Our family experience as part of the SiPN Visiting Family Program has been a very positive and gratifying experience.  This program enabled us to share cultural experiences and develop strong ties with our SiPN students.  They became part of our family and this friendship will continue for years to come.  All our SiPN family members were unique and very diverse, after all the United States is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.

We learned a lot about the Portuguese community Boston, Massachusetts from Monica and the strong ties between Mexico and San Diego, California from Maria. We also had an opportunity to show them some of Portugal’s coolest and historical places as well as had them try some traditional dishes and food. There is plenty to do in an 850+ year old country.

Our 5 year old daughter loved sightseeing and talking to them about almost anything, both in Portuguese and English.

We hope to continue expanding and keeping in touch with all our SiPN family members.


SiPN Buddy Program

If you have ever wondered how the life of a young person in Europe differs from yours and would like to experience it first-hand, then the buddy network is ideal for you.

Who Are SiPN Buddies and How Does the Program Work?

The buddies are volunteers ages 18-27 living in the greater Lisbon area. Some of them plan to study abroad in the U.S. and would like to learn about the college system there while establishing a social network before leaving. Others just want to meet new people and gain some cross-cultural skills.

The SiPN Buddy Program is a framework that provides you with the opportunity to interact with Portuguese students, but any successful friendships you may develop depend on your level of personal engagement. For this reason, SiPN highly encourages you to participate in organizing events, help suggest ideas for events, and to generally make an effort to make your particular network the best one possible.

No need to sign up!

All students will benefit from this initiative. SiPN, along with the Portuguese partner universities finds and mantains a database of young Portuguese college students who like this idea of serving as ambassadors to SiPN students!

Traveling Outside Portugal

Portugal has so much to see…but many students nevertheless want to take advantage of Lisbon’s location to visit other countries in Europe or Africa. For example, over a long weekend, Carnival or Easter breaks, the January winter break for those staying for the entire academic year, students can hop on a low-cost airline and visit some amazing locations in just a matter of hours.

Take a look at the following websites and explore:



Aer Lingus


Some students may prefer going “old school style” via the European InterRail. You can explore options Here, from one of Lisbon’s main train stations.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer during your time in Portugal and engage in a meaningful service experience. Give back to the community while making Portuguese connections and it could just be one of the best decisions you make while studying abroad!

Volunteer Spontaneously Throughout the Semester with one of SiPN’s partners, the Lisbon Municipality Volunteer program.

Perks of the volunteer service:

  • It’s a great way to make personal connections in Lisbon, as you work alongside other Portuguese and international students;
  • You might earn access to special discounts, such as vouchers and free entrance to events and concerts.

How Do I Participate?

Just let us know before you depart, or during the first two weeks after you have arrived in Lisbon and the SiPN On-site Coordinator will put you in contact with our partners.

General Safety & Insurance

Student safety is a primary concern to SiPN. All staff members are service-minded, and are ready to handle questions or problems from individual students or from parents. SiPN operates 24-hour emergency contact numbers which are accessible globally.

These numbers are provided to you as part of your acceptance materials.

ALL SiPN students are covered by an AON Travel & Health Insurance policy that is tailor-made for study abroad students. It provides coverage for everything from a stolen laptop, to lost luggage, to dental, emergency and routine medical coverage.

On top of that, all SiPN students enjoy obligatory university insurance coverage, provided by the host University (Portuguese policy).

Some member schools of the SiPN network provide full-service health and dental clinics on campus. For example this clinic is located on ISCTE-IUL’s campus.

All schools that integrate SiPN’s network offer free mental health counseling to all students. Upon request by the student, SiPN will schedule a screening interview to assess the support objectives requested. Depending on the situation, the counseling services office (CSO) will schedule future sessions or make a referral to other appropriate services. The CSO works in accordance with the ethical standards of their profession, particularly as regards ensuring strict confidentiality.