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Johanna, Severi, Emma and Eve.

Our Comenius group made a visit to Vila Nova de Gaia in Portugal in March 2014. The students on this trip (from left in the picture) were Johanna Laaksonen, Severi Ruusumaa, Emma Järri and Eve Torpo. They were accompanied by teachers Marko Kaskinen and Tiina Kataja. We had a very nice 5-day stay in Portugal, thanks to our lovely hosts, and the weather was on our side as well. Of course our Comenius partners from other countries were there too and it was really nice to get to know more people again.

Read what our students have written about the visit.

Portugal, March 2014 - Escola Secundaria Ines de Castro

Escola Secundaria Inês de Castro was huge. The students told us that there are over 2500 students, and I saw at least five buildings among the street - I don’t know what is the real amount.

The school building seemed to be very modern and tidy. I heard that the school has got its own television channel. All the students had green cards that included their personal data, I suppose, and without which they could not enter the gate. One of the adults of the school checked the cards of all students. The another use for the green card was an automaton where they put their card and could then see how much they had money, their timetables and so on.

I noticed that the students were communicating with teachers more like a friend to friend than a student to teacher. I was attending a PE lesson and I think they had only one 50 minutes lesson. They were also all boys and girls in the same lesson, we’re separated. The other lesson I saw was a maths lesson, and it was quite like the same than ours, but they had a smaller group of students studying in the same class. It was told to us that it’s only with maths, physics and chemistry.

I understood that all the lessons were 50 minutes long and the students moved straightly to the next lesson.


By the way, the students concentrated on studying in the lessons, no one was rocking with his chair or disturbing other students. We Finns (or some of us) should follow the example.

Their lunch break was a hour and a half long. We ate yellow soup as a starter every day, then there were the main dish and fruits as a dessert. The lunch room was quite small for 2500 students, I don’t know how the lunch was really managed. At least the room was noisy!

Rest of the time before the next lesson the students spent lying down the stairs outside the school building, talking and enjoying the sun. So did we, and when the weather became too hot, we moved inside the building.

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The school gate and the front yard.

Johanna Laaksonen

Vila Nova de Gaia


Vila Nova de Gaia is the third biggest city in Portugal and it’s located in Atlantic coast. Vila Nova de Gaia is in River Douro’s southern coast and in the other side is Porto. It’s in Porto district. Vila Nova de Gaia’s population is 300 000 people and it’s area is 168.7 square kilometers. Porto’s population is 263 000. There are seven big bridges. On other side is Porto and on other side is Vila Nova de Gaia.

In Vila Nova de Gaia have many churches. Many of those are Catholic churches.

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The Douro River separates Vila Nova de Gaia and Porto.

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One of the bridges leading to Porto.



In Portugal people eat much potatoes and rice. Almost every dinner had soup too.

They have lunch in school, which include soup, bread, and main food. In many dinners we ate rice or potatoes or both. Not every time. Before main food people eat soup.

They have very tasty bread, called francesinja. We went to eat francesinja. It was very delicious. It was bread which had ham, sausage and steak.

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Francescina - the famous Portuguese sandwich.

Portugal’s fruits are very good. People eat fruits much. Even school lunch had fruits. Portugal’s strawberries are good too. I really loved them.

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Fresh strawberries are available all year round.

In Vila Nova de Gaia they make famous wine, called port wine. They make port wine and then they put that wine to barrel and let it be in there something 10 years. After 10 years it will be ready.

Severi Ruusumaa

Our host family

I spent a nice week in Vila Nova De Gaia in Portugal with Jose and his family.

Jose has mother, father, nine years old sister and grandmother who lives near.

I had a warm welcome and they did the best that I enjoyed my time there.

Jose`s mother gave me food all the time and she said I don`t eat enough. Jose lives in an apartment building. I was wondering when everyone wore shoes inside.

Jose is 18 and he has own car so we go shopping one day. I will miss my friendly host family and I will hope to meet them again.

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Jose and us.

Fishing Village

We visited in a little fishing village. It was very beautiful place. The fishing village called “Afurada”. We walked on the beach. The seawater  was cold.


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Shells in the sun shine.

 Eve Torpo


The Portuguese spoke very good English and they had a good accent. Of course we had those moments when we all were confused about what we should say, but that’s okay. But at first some of them were kind of shy and they were afraid of talking to other students in English. But after a day everyone was talking and they were very friendly people!

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Our international group got on with each other really well.


Fun together

We went to a mall and we were playing some games and shopping and also we went to a restaurant and we were eating Francezinha. (Francezinha is a local sandwich which is very famous in Portugal.) We went to a beach and we were looking for some shells. We were also having many bus trips around the Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia. We painted two big boards just the way we wanted to.

After all, we had a great week and I’m sure that we all are going to miss our new friends!

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Making funny faces.

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The boards we painted.

Emma Järri