Total Shares 1.1K

Quick summary: How is it to study at Católica business school? Check out this real testimonial from an Asian student, sharing with the Uduni community his experience at Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics! You can also check out also a similar one from a European student and another one from a European student’s view of Nova SBE!

Related: Studying at ISEGTécnico (IST)ISCTE-IUL and Nova SBE – real testimonials!

Hello, there!

Prior to coming to Portugal, Lisbon, for my studies, I had the following thoughts:

  • Wow, I will be studying in the best business school of Portugal! So cool!
  • Eventually, I will see the ocean, frequently go to the beach, and enjoy the sun all the time
  • I will be studying business and not economics (phew!)
  • There will be so many international guys (50% of the Master’s students annually) and I will make so many friends here
  • Most importantly, all of them will be very smart, different and open
  • Most classes will be very interesting and challenging so that I will be ready to enter the “serious” business

The reality turned out to be a little bit different. I will tell you, guys, in this article, what expectations went true and what went false, without bullshit about “oh, the university is the best in ranking and I enjoy it so much” or my great international experience. Before I start, I have to admit: it is my fault to have unreasonably high expectations about studying in Lisbon. So, let’s go!

Study At Catolica – Destroyed Expectations

In the period of Spring – Summer 2015 I eventually decided that I would like to continue my education, in a slightly different sphere: management. I had a little idea what is taught there since I had a different major, and so I was thrilled: Management! This must be some cool stuff taught by dare, experienced and interesting experts who will tell about their industry experience during the lessons, without the economic theories that after a while stop making sense. I was looking forward to the studies that could show me what it is like to be a professional, a manager in a multinational company, or a successful entrepreneur. In other words, I was looking for a life mission, a path to follow. Instead, I found a path that I should NOT follow.

Management studies showed how to behave, deal with people and think in settings where you submit to the will of other people and usually (well, always) have no right to deviate from what is considered traditional (and not necessarily effective). The main messages I got from them are

  • You should act according to the rules of the company you work in
  • You should behave ethically meaning that you should not be different from everyone else
  • You should always think of the customer, but be sure you please your boss

among others. However, the most important thing for me is that management studies never offered positive changes in a world other than the corporate. I understand that the main goal of corporations is to make as much profit as possible (in 99% of cases); however, it was all about how to save costs, increase the market share and gain more consumers, even if that meant making them addicted to an absolutely useless product or service (apart from a couple of courses).

 First-world problems are everywhere in a country that is supposed to solve much more serious problems in economics and society. Rather, I mostly heard about products that are aimed at parties and leisure. This reminds me of a sailor who tries to enjoy the sun while a storm is approaching. Honestly, I thought I would encounter people who went to the university to solve acute problems in Portugal and around the world, but instead I met people who were concerned about the next party.

I know I sound naïve, and I know that due to the language barrier I did not meet many people out there to be able to disprove my impressions, but the local students here turned out to be quite closed. It was funny when we, a small group of international students, found exactly the same nuances of communicating to Portuguese students: one day you talk to someone about something, and the next day you receive this look: Who are you, anyway?

I must tell that there are exceptions to these people I described above. Not everyone is so closed, and not everyone is thinking about parties and stuff, but my expectations led me to seek for these kinds of people, and I have practically stopped my search for people who would somehow be different than the people around me.

Everything Is Awful, But It’s Not That Bad

I do not usually complain like this, but it is my duty to warn about pros and cons about studying here. For the same reason I must also stress some positive moments about stay and studies in Portugal:

  • People here are really nice when it comes to services like restaurants, shops, museums etc. It is much more relaxed than in my country; that is why I enjoy this atmosphere of smiles and relaxedness in Portugal.
  • The weather is nice in most of days, it is true. Sun appears much more often than in my country, which is why I like to be outside: going to the ocean, taking walks or doing sports.
  • Professors are really nice in terms of communication with the students. They are usually ready to help in time, and are making effort to bring the knowledge in a form that would be easy to digest.
  • It is hard to ignore the prices here that are significantly lower than in the rest of the Western Europe.

In the end, I do not feel very welcomed in Portugal. Rather, the characteristics of the country in terms of weather and surroundings are more pleasing than the attitudes of locals toward foreigners. I think that is for the best, since I am now sure what it feels like when you have to live and study in settings not necessarily friendly.  I also realized that the path of corporate career is not what I want, and that the profit causes and motives do not appeal to me. I am very grateful to these discoveries, and for the chance to self-reflect without the social life disturbing me. So, the main skill I realized is important when studying abroad is to remain positive, be proactive (as opposed to reactive), analyze yourself, and then act according to YOUR principles and priorities, and not be dictated by anyone how to live.

The author of this article asked to remain anonymous.


Would you like to share your testimonial as well? If yes, please send it to [email protected], either in Portuguese or English!


This was the impression of an Asian student, which is not that different from another one from an European student that you can check by clicking here! You can also click here to check out an opposite perspective: a Portuguese student’s perspective on his amazing experience in Beijing!


DISCLAIMER: The articles featured on our platform were prepared or accomplished by students in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of UDUNI. UDUNI does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in these articles. It is part of our mission to empower students, by providing them access to real testimonials and opinions, and we believe that is the reason why some of our articles may not please everyone.

Don’t miss any more awesome content from us and give us a Like on Facebook.

[facebook-page-plugin href=”classcollector/” cover=”true” facepile=”true” tabs=”” cta=”true” small=”false” adapt=”true” link=”true” linktext=”” ]

Total Shares 1.1K
  1. You experienced at a deeper level the same same i did, when i moved in from a town just 100 kilometers outside Lisbon.

    The problem with enrolling at a lisbon higher education institution as an outsider, is that the vast majority of students are locals, still live with their parents, already have their estrablished social network of friends and aquaintances going years back, for them is business as usual, they dont want / dont need to put effort in creating new friendships (which is usualy the case people who find themselves alone in a new enviorment.)

    I think your experience was even more agravated by the fact the you choosed the most exclusive university in the country to which usually the super rich attend, and you have to understand, for most of these these people getting a degree a meere formaliy , as their future careeres are assured by either their social network contacts ( cunhas, in portuguese) or by continueing the family business, so its deffinetly the place to look for results oriented people.

    “one day you talk to someone about something, and the next day you receive this look: Who are you, anyway?”

    HAHA i can totally relate to this one , this a verry well imprented watermark of lisboners in general, it happened to me a lot at my college and i think its so f**** stupid you just feel like bitch slapping them in the face, like ” are you kidding me??? i’m being polite, aknowleging your presence giving you respect and consederation as we already have had a previous contact and you’re acting like we’re total strangers and me talking to you is an offense?”

    Anyways, the reason i write these words of support its not that i’m better than or superior to anyone (because im not) but i feel your pain, because although i’m born and raised in this country, in back of my mind ever since i was a child i’ve always felt ” i dont belong in this s**** hole”

    take care

  2. After I read your article, I have to be true that you described me three years of my studies, but the difference I am Portuguese and I am studying at a public college in Portugal (Castelo Branco).
    I read the comments and I have to tell my opinion, a lot of people of this comments don’t have idea the real country that we live.Because all colleges in Portugal are not the same as Porto, Lisbon, Coimbra, Faro, Evora, Leiria, Aveiro … which in my opinion are really great and have academic spirit. In my case, if I have no friends studying at Coimbra i will never know what is the academic spirit, friendly people you meet in one night and they become your friends.So don’t surprise me if you hate the college and few people, that you found here, but i have to tell you to dont have the same idea that portuguese people are all the same way. Because remember the people make the places. And you don´t found the right here, people like me , and that turned what is supposed your best years of your life ( years academic life) in your biggest nightmare.
    So I hope some day you back to portugal to take these awful ideias of portugal and portuguese people 🙂

    1. right one——>>>> I read the comments and I have to tell my opinion, a lot of people of this comments don’t have idea the real country that we live.
      Because the all colleges in portugal are not the same like Porto, Lisbon ,COIMBRA, Faro, Evora, Leiria, Aveiro… that in my opinion are really great and have that academic spirit. In my case if i dont have friends study in Coimbra i will never know what is that academic spirit, the friendly people that you meet in one night and they become yours friends. So dont suprise me if you hate the college and few people, that you meet in their, but i have to teel you to dont have the same ideia that portugal people are all the same way. Because remember the people make the places. And you don´t meet the right people, like in my case , and that turn your best years of your life ( years academic life) in your big nightmare.
      I hope some day you turn to portugal to take these awfal ideias of portugal and portuguese people 🙂


  4. Well, dear Asian student:

    I agree with you in so many ways! Católica is an elite university, to people who can pay (a lot!), which is a minority in this country, really. I’m sorry for your experience. If you had gone to a public university, you would have found such a different environment – friendly people, excellent teachers, appropriate curricula and international recognition. I would advise Nova School of Business and Economics. I hope you don’t take such a terrible opinion with you from this country, because, as I said before, those close-minded, Volvo-proud people don’t represent all of us.

  5. José Carlos Tavares
    “The fact of the author want to remain anonymous is trully revealing real intentions of article.”

  6. The fact of the author want to remain anonymous is trully revealing real intentions of article.

  7. One little smart thing: If you are an updated person, and watch the news frequently, and if you have made a little research about Portugal… You would know, before making your choice, that Portugal, due to it’s economical situation, would probably not match your expectations about management… I’m portuguese, but in terms of management, I have to admit that the country is still quite shitty… You don’t need to be an expert to figure that out. And things are, unfortunately, taught the way they are, and always were, not the way to make them better. So I’m sure there are better places to study management. Once again, you don’t need to be a genious to figure that out.

    By the way, from which country are you? The only thing I found weird and quite offensive was the “I didn’t feel welcome”… I’m sorry, this makes me laugh, you must be a really strange person…

  8. What interests you most about Lisbon? Would you consider visiting? Let us know in the comments below!

  9. In the case of master students doing erasmus at Catolica, I know that most of them only need to pass the course since their home university only accepts pass/fail. As such, I will do as much as possible not to work with an erasmus student: they simply have no incentive to work hard (of course there are 5% who still does). Therefore, it is not surprising that portuguese don’t get along with erasmus

  10. I understand going abroad isn’t all that in terms of meeting new people. I myself have experienced this twice.

    Although your stance on being anti-partying seems to have curtailed your social life exposure and possibly led to your feelings of exclusion.

    Also, I must say that overall this experience appears to be significantly worsened from your disenchantment of the management subject arena. The attitude we have in Portugal is one of greed and young talent subservience, and this is what business schools teach. I do not agree with this in the slightest.

  11. I studied at Católica for a couple of years and hated it… I am Portuguese. I studied media studies. the university’s top ranking scores are probably based in market placement AKA employability, how many students per year got a job… this is totally irrelevant and misleading since it is a private school and most students are upper class and get a job from non university related contacts. Some teacher are good and work with what they have but mostly the equipment and the contents are outdated and irrelevant in terms of preparing the students for actual work. The worst is the administrative services who keep messing up enrollments and have so many admin problems in a system that is already confusing… and trying to complaint or even change things, there’s a kind of “their way or the high way” fell to it, specially when some students I knew were told they could change universities when they went in to complaint about tuition prices changing every month (mostly up) as they well damn pleased… And the people don’t even get me started, they are the definition of shallow of course there are exceptions to the rule as always but generally it’s a bad environment, no college fell to it, Católica is a corporation whose product is classes and main concern is to attract clients and their money, they have little regard for their students needs or complaints and hide behind being a religious university and its charity aspects as to pretend they give a damn.

  12. Im a portuguese student, I took my LLB at Lisbon University and Im currently taking my Master’s at Católica (LLM) and Im really sorry that you had such a bad experience here… To be honest, I always get disapointed when I hear someone saying they didnt enjoy Portugal in any way… Hearing you say you had such a bad academic experience really puts me down. I have tons of Erasmus’ friends from all over the globe, many of which are asian, and they all seem to love it here. Hopefully you’ll come back one day, to work, study or visit and you’ll change your views…
    As to Católica, its a great University but I would call it the elite, you have plenty good ones, I personally think that Nova offers a better LLB management programme. Im studying International tax law and loving it, but my bachelor was taken at the real elite University in Lisboa… Lisbon University. The thing about students from católica is that (being a private School and all) they are all very alike and, quite frankly, a bit arrogant, posh and spoiled…

  13. Imagine if you had gone to NOVA, it would have been a lot worse mate. You were lucky nonetheless

  14. hey, i’m a CLSBE student and i really enjoyed your text! here is my opinion on the university:

    º WHAT’S BAD?? :C

    1º) Students are close minded (on average)
    2º) No etics concerned
    3º) School credibility relies on rankings and the students background
    4º) All about the money.. sustainability ?
    5º) No sports facilities
    6º) Responsible for the education of many generations of irresponsible managers (with exceptions of course)
    7º) Instead of playing a role in the change of the country, creating a new generation of capable and responsible people, the university keeps going the old fashioned way..
    8º) Can’t students feel comfortable inside the campus?? there’s not even a couch to sit and just relax, no living rooms to talk or discuss ideas no nothing.. just a noisy bar.. not enough!

    º WHATS GOOD ?? 😀

    1º) Really nice teachers that apply they’re programs in perfection and provide students everything they need.
    2º) Good place for people that just want a job/career ! (robot way)
    2º) the students association (AE) provides support to anything you need.
    3º) Many clubs for interested people that want to develop more skills and learn in a different and more practical way.
    4º) lisbon is one of the coolest cities to be living right now, nice people, great culture, good arts, nice festivals, just come and see by yourself!

    – the rankings shouldn’t be trusted, because a university is so much more than numbers..

    – the mentality must change in order to be a top and attractive university in the future

    – the university keeps relying on it’s established credibility and feels comfortable so.. its a follower rather than a Leader and that is enough to understand the position they have on the future of education, they’ll only change if everyone else does.. they talk about leading the future and it sounds so ironic, unfortunately.

  15. It’s quite ironic that you came here to study management and to see how to solve real life issues and you ended giving up both because you realized it isn’t for you and you continue criticizing a university that teaches management and its students from being different. You are the one that was in a foreign country, you were the one who should have attempted to make other friends if you didn’t get along with the first people you met. Portugal and the Portuguese are know for being extremely hospitable and I myself, as a Catolica student that has been involved in the international club and students union, never had a single complain of foreign students. It’s a shame that you are unable to see what an exception you were and how perhaps your own cultural barriers made your experience an awful one. You have no idea if the university cares only about the rankings – you haven’t been here long enough. Moreover, you chose Catolica for the rankings, right? So why are you complaining now? Best of luck in living in your own bubble, you’ll need it.

    1. Não percebeste um cu da mensagem que ele quis passar, hahahahahaha xD Quase me mijei a rir a ler este comentáio xD

  16. I am so sorry for you! I studied an year at Católica and I hated it! You should have come to Nova, it is much better and the enviornment is completly different! I completly hated my experience at Católica, at the end of the year I switched to Nova and it has been amazing and the Students’ Union organizes partys and events so exchange students feel welcome here!

  17. I am Portuguese and I felt the same way when I stayed in Catolica for 2 years. I always felt like an outsider, and the university seemed to care more about our money and their ranking than to actually train us to be managers. They don’t innovate at all inside the school, they just copy learning programs from other schools like Nova or Universidade Europeia. The only good thing I found during these 2 awful years of experience there was the university ‘reputation’ that may give you more chance and preference at the labour market. Other than that, if you want to have an overall good academic, social and even personal experience, and still be as or more prepared for your future, I definitely recommend other universities like the ones I mentioned above.

  18. I have just read your article or what you would like to call it. I am a student from Catolica University of Lisbon, yes I am a portuguese student and perhaps I don’t experienced the same things you did but I am really disappointed that you have that idea of this amazing university, being a portuguese student I try to welcome foreign students so that they can feel home here and sometimes I find it dificult because they look to us like we are aliens or something like that, yes some of them are really nice people but most of them just stare at me like I am being stupid, thinking: why in the world are you talking with me? I just don’t know you. So, its reasonable that after some of those experiences I just don’t talk that much with foreign students but that doesn’t mean that I am gonna be rude to them if they come talk with me. Perhaps the way you approached them wasn’t the better one, or perhaps you just talked with the wrong portuguese ones, but rude people exist everywhere, not only in Católica and when it comes to the message that the university passes I just can’t agree with you, in my opinion the university searches for different opinions and always finds it interesting to see a new point of view, I don’t always agree with what my teachers say and I feel very confortable to expose my opinions. Therefore I really hope that you can comeback to Catolica one day and somehow change your opinion.

  19. probably you are just a frustrated guy. probably the fact that you are chinese dinst help…. and it’s not normal that you regret all the parties….. so maybe the problem is on you and not in the university or the otheres.

  20. Facepalm? Your story is totally non-sense and you don’t even provide proper arguments. Of course Católica wasn’t for you! Aha

  21. Please, this is the most ridiculous review I have ever read! I study Management at Católica and it is nothing like this guy described. You should do some research before posting this kind of “reviews”. I am from Germany and I came to Católica because it is the best not just in Portugal, but I would risk to say, in Europe. I have had classes in Nova, I really liked, they are awesome. But Católica is the best and everyone knows why! This guy had a bad experience because he wanted to!

    1. Best in Europe? Come on, get real. It’s just one guy’s opinion, so people should relax. What school you went to in Germany?

  22. I’m a Portuguese guy and I study Management at Catolica. I have been on Erasmus before and, of course, I can understand some of your problems, especially when it comes to interaction with the locals. It is true that people in Catolica are often shallow and don’t mix with internationals, but this is not a motive to ruin your experience. Often, internationals hangout with each other (and trust me, you are a lot) and with the Portuguese that are extroverted decent people (we are a lot as well!).

    This seems to be the only valid point in your text – you said it yourself, outside university people are friendly, the weather is nice, Lisbon is a cool city. It seems to me that mostly, you were disappointed about the course: but if you didn’t like studying management in Lisbon, trust me when I say that the same would happen in Madrid, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, São Paulo or Hong Kong… Business Schools are Schools that teach you how to make money and they often disregard social issues. Management/Economics courses are almost the same everywhere, so it is unfair to relate your dissatisfaction to the city.

    Just come back here on vacation, get to know the nightlife and I’m sure you will enjoy in a way that was unknown to you before!

  23. Good students and they also can have a social life?? That’s something to be proud not a bad thing lool I’m a portuguese student and when I went in my exchange semester I mostly just new erasmus students, that occurs in every school… Lol not just in the “Lisbon most elite University”

  24. I’m so sorry for your bad experience but instead of complaining, you should have investigated better what the word “management” means LOL. Of course that management is deeply related with creating profit, saving costs, increasing market share and if you don’t like that… well, maybe you should have considered your options before you had apply for that master,
    I’m local, and I can tell you that in my master (different university, of course) we have a lot of foreign people and they are all very good welcoming,
    I don’t understand other thing: What is the problem of planning a party or even go to one? We are STUDENTS! Students that are able of having fun and study whenever we need.

  25. Hi! I am Portuguese and I feel the same, I am very open minded, I study in Lisbon. Most of the times I feel like my coleagues don’t really care about eachother, I only have some people that I actually consider my friends even thought I “know” a lot of people, what I feel is like they only care about their lifes and goals and they are not at the university to make friends and live. And with the Erasmus students could be worse, what I see in my classes is that my coleagues ignore the erasmus. University is not only about going there and study and that is it, I don’t think they realize that.
    I did Erasmus and I felt so much better there not only with the other Erasmus students but with some of the locals too. Well, I guess I am an exception trying to change things… 🙂

  26. This is not uncommon in some universities here, but it’s a matter of luck I guess, everyone is different and some of us aren’t “closed”, sorry for your bad experience though

  27. Have you even party at night? Went to any kind of Erasmus party? Do you know ESN, ELL, and all the other organizations? :s And that University is pretty overrated if you just came to study and to see museums..

Leave a Reply