Life at Nova SBE has some similarities to studying at USC but also some notable differences. It was relatively easy to catch on to how Nova works since so many people were in the same boat. Still, some aspects of the school caught me by surprise, and it could’ve helped to be a bit more prepared in terms of expectation.
Day To Day Nova Life: NOVA SBE isn't actually located in Lisbon, it's on the water in a town called Carcavelos - about 40 minutes away (by train). With this being said, if you prioritize living in a busier city with a nightlife, like many students, it's common to live in Lisbon and make the commute to the beach everyday. I actually really enjoyed this routine and the train ride with a view of the beach was a motivating way to wake up and ease into my day.
- Transportation: Get the fast train to school with took about 20 minutes and walk another 10-15 minutes from there to campus
- Location: The university is basically on the beach, so you can take a towel & bathing suit that you can leave in a daily locker on campus to go for a walk or swim during your day
- Classes: Classes are usually around an hour and a half and 3 times a week (2 of them being lecture and 1 of them a discussion/lab)
- Lunch: Lunch on campus is probably the best part. There is an Amazon Fresh- type grocery store that has fresh and inexpensive meals, along with the selection of common grocery store items. There is also a cafeteria with restaurants and a home cooked meal style station where you got a 3 course meal for a little under 3 dollars (my favorite).
- Transportation: If you're tired from your long day - no need to walk back to the train station. You can save a 15 minute walk by getting one of the shuttles back to the station
Class Expectations: At Nova SBE, professors tend to set up their class structure in ways that differ from USC. Grading was a bit slower as well, so it can be hard to understand what to prioritize in the class until it is over. For that reason, I think it would be helpful to list out the most important things to know when starting your classes.
- Grading Breakdown: Nearly every class has one to two exams as well as a big group project that comes with multiple presentations along the way. It is a good way of practicing what you learn in classes in real time, but keep in mind that overall there are not many separate grades, so you need to do well on the big assignments.
- Course Structure: Each class has a practical and theoretical section. The theoretical is basically like a lecture whereas the practical is more like lab or discussion. Participation tends to be more important in the practical section and can include answering questions in class as well as short presentations.
- Group Projects: Be prepared to have a heavy focus on group projects. Many of the projects required meeting outside of class multiple times. Still, group projects are the best way to meet people at the school so don’t be afraid to join a group that is mainly Portuguese in order to get more involved with the non-international portions of Nova.
- Class Size: Classes are medium-sized (about 30-40 students) so it is easy to get a hold of the professor when necessary. Professors at Nova are always happy to help, but instructions and expectations can occasionally be unclear. It can be helpful to ask questions and show professors your work along the way for feedback in order to be sure you are on the right track.
- Exams: Exams tend to be a mixture of multiple choice and short answer questions. The student union can help provide support and study guides, but make sure to take notes in classes because the professors don’t provide much study material before exams.
- Projects: Group projects are heavily student led and go through the course of the entire semester. They have written and presentation aspects, and many classes provide time to work on them in practical sections.
Overall Atmosphere Of the University: NOVA SBE is an Management & Economic school meaning the entire campus is specifically business students. This creates a like minded atmosphere where there is still a priority for diversity with so many international students. There was not too much interaction between the Portuguese and the exchange students, but of course you get out what you put in with the relationships you build there. Also, the campus being located on the beach created an easy going and laid back ambience which was great for eliminating school related stress.
- Student Union: the student Union is basically a mixture of student government as well as event organization for Nova. They host fun outdoor events so make sure to follow their Instagram to stay up to date. They also organize outings to places like Porto and Péniche. Even though these are paid, I highly recommend trying them out because it’s a great way to meet other students at Nova while also having going on a trip planned by young people who have actually grown up in Portugal.
- Student Environment: Most of my classes were mainly with other international students as they are electives which are not required for full time Nova students. A lot of the recommended events are also filled with international students so it is important to make connections with Portuguese students through classes or Student Union events.
- Design: Nova SBE is a relatively new campus, so the architecture is very modern and open. Many parts of the school remind me of PCA in Zoey 101 because there are tons of bean bags and cute hangout spots.
- Atmosphere: Nova has a lot of common areas as well as games such as foosball or ping pong. The set up of the school is very conducive to hanging out with other students in between classes, and that is what people commonly do. It is typical to have big chunks of time in between classes, but Nova provides you with a lot to do from going to the beach, having a snack or playing games. It is common for students to stay on campus nearly all day and then to go to the beach at night.