Anna Rietz: Instituto Superior de Agronomia, ISA, Lisbon, Portugal

Last changed: 03 April 2024
Picture of Anna from a viewpoint in Portugal

I studied at ISA in Lisbon, and I had an overall nice experience. I really enjoyed some of the courses and learned a lot. At same time, I had to study a lot and had some mixed feelings about not having enough time to actually experience the country. I went for trips whenever I had the chance and for sure there is a lot to experience in Portugal! One longer trip I took was to the Azores islands, which became the best event on my entire exchange.

Why did you want to do an exchange?

I wanted to get some new impressions and get the contrasts from studying in a small town to study at a large university in a city. I also wanted to make the best of my last year in bachelor, and I sure did!

Which courses did you take?

Remote sensing: Advanced course but after a while I grew a new interest and I now plan to study this subject further in my master. The professor was really good!

Wildlife management: Easy course with focus on ecosystem services. It was a nice course with some fieldtrips. 

Forest pest and diseases: One of my favourite courses. Well organised and interesting subjects, also opportunities and encouragement to look at the subject from the Swedish perspective.

Forest governance: This course was mainly about politics and not so much about forest politics. Not my favourite subject.

Agroforestry: I had high expectations on this course and was thrilled to learn more about agroforestry systems. unfortunately, it was verry poorly executed. It was mainly thought in Portuguese, with quick summaries in bad English. Only good thing with it was it included several fieldtrips.

My overall impression of the education is good. The courses that I was most found of, Remote sensing and forest pest and diseases, were at a really good level and I learned a lot. The rest was okay but not bad, except for agroforestry that was actually bad. It was a new thing for me to study that many subjects at ones, is comes with some pros and cons. Pros are that you, with some planning, can manage the get subjects that you are interested in, meet a lot of different groups of people in the different classes and can change if some subject doesn’t suit you. The teachers were really nice people that always helped you when struggling. The campus I would say, is the by far the most beautiful in Lisbon. Going to the cons I want to mention the system of exams at ISA, or at least in the courses from MEDfOR master program that I studied. You have exams throughout the semester and if you manage them all you don’t need to take final exams. At first, I saw this as a pro, but In my case, this resulted in me having exams for almost every week my entire semester. I later on would conclude this as a con, because even though the exams were small, I always studied a lot for them, which resulted in not so much time for the experience of the country and culture. Another con relating to this system is the last week before Christmas. Since you are reading 5 subjects, you will have A LOT in the last week. In my case I had 3 exams and 3 presentations.

What was the student life like outside of your courses?

For the one with time and interest there is a lot of opportunities for student life in Lisbon, or more correctly Erasmus life. You have two different organisation that hosts parties, travels, and other event for Erasmus students. Great place to meet other Erasmus students! The student organization at ISA also hosts some parties and events, mostly for the new Portuguese students, but all are welcome to join, and this is more of real Portuguese traditions experience.

What was your best experience during your exchange?

I went with some friends to the autonomous islands of Azores. This hosts for some of my best memories from my exchange and I’m so happy I took the opportunity to go! It’s a two-hour flight from Lisbon and the nature is verry different from the mainland of Portugal. We looked at many viewpoints, went swimming in hot springs and just enjoyed ourselves a lot!

What was the biggest challenge during your exchange?

Finding the balance between studying and enjoying. A lot of my friends studied less ECT:s than me, but I didn’t understand that in the beginning, so the comparison with them and their experience made me somewhat frustrated.

Advice for future exchange students

  • Your exchange is your experience, you should acknowledge your own
    preferences. There will be millions of opportunities to do stuff, and
    sorry to say, you can’t do it all. Do what you enjoy and accept that
    resting is also included in the concept of having fun.
  • Book some events with Erasmus organisations in good time before you
    start your exchange. I wanted to join when I arrived, but they were all
    fully booked.
  • Arrive early, if possible, with a friend, to enjoy and get some tourism
    impressions of the city before you start Uni.

Further questions:


Name: Anna Rietz
Exchange at: Instituto Superior de Agronomia, ISA, Lisbon Portugal
Programme at SLU: Skogsmästarprogrammet (bachelor’s in forestry science)
Period of exchange: Autmn 2021