Monthly Archives: November 2012

Undiscovered Portugal

Here are two texts from students in our Advanced course.  Their writing task was to write a contribution to a website or brochure for tourists interested in spending time in the Portuguese countryside.  We think they do a great job of selling the country to potential visitors.  What do you think?

The Undiscovered Countryside

If you are on the lookout for adventure and holiday time well-spent, here is the perfect destination for you: the Portuguese Countryside, a world waiting to be explored.

Portugal has a vast mountain area which is without doubt a great place to try out outdoor sports and pursuits like climbing, mountain biking or, for the less daring, hill walking.  These mountains are also home to a great variety of wild animals.  They might be shy but if you are patient, you might be lucky enough to see a lynx, birds of prey or even wolves.

If you are looking for a relaxing and peaceful escape from hectic city life, Portugal can offer that too.  Far away from the hustle and bustle are hotels and cottages for rent with pools and spas where you can unwind and recharge your batteries.

When it comes to accommodation, there is a wealth of options.  You can choose from elegant hotels, quaint country cottages and bungalows, welcoming bed and breakfasts and well equipped camp sites.  In general the standard of the facilities are excellent.  Places to stay in the countryside are also cheaper in comparison with the big and modern city hotels.

As much as we’d like to, we can’t give accurate predictions about the weather conditions.  If you’re coming in winter cold temperatures are to be expected along with the chance of heavy rain, deep snow and dense fog.  In contrast, summer is usually very hot but you should still be prepared for the odd summer shower.

To sum up, the Portuguese countryside has a lot to offer.  Take some time out to come and see the beautiful landscapes of Serra da Estrela and Serra do Gerrês for yourself.  I’m sure you won’t regret choosing to spend your holidays here.

 

Areas such as the Serra do Caramulo are wonderful destinations for nature lovers who love going off the well beaten tourist tracks.

Areas such as the Serra do Caramulo are wonderful destinations for nature lovers who love going off the well beaten tourist tracks.

 

A Destination with a difference

When visiting a foreign country, tourists often choose the same overcrowded places as their destination.  However, by doing so, they might be overlooking somewhere even better.  For example, the Portuguese countryside is a great place to get away from the stressful life in the city.

What to do and where to stay

More often than not we assume that there isn’t much to do in the countryside but that’s completely wrong!  If you want to relax and enjoy breathtaking sights, this is the best place you could choose.  And as far as activities go, there are a wide variety of ways to take advantage of your time.

One of the main attractions is extreme sports.  There are many adventure parks offering activities such as rafting, rappel, suspended bridges, rock climbing and mountain biking.  In addition, there are also calmer programmes like hiking trips.

Finding a place to stay is no longer the problem it once was thanks to the growing trend in rural tourism.  From budget options like youth hostels to cosy wooden houses and bungalows which can be rented for shorter or longer breaks, there are plenty of options available to suit all tastes and budgets.

These options place you in the heart of Portuguese village life.  A visit to the countryside gives you closer contact with locals and, consequently, a deeper contact with their culture.

What to expect

There isn’t much to say about the weather.  It might be slightly colder or warmer than what you’re used to, but nothing unusual or unbearable.  In the countryside, even on hotter days during the height of summer, there’ll always be a tree offering some shade.

Animals might be your biggest problem, especially insects during the summer, so make sure you have what you need to repel them.

An invitation

All in all, when making your decision about your next holiday destination, don’t forget to look beyond the normal resorts and tourist traps.  Whichever country you choose to visit, the countryside is sure to offer you a different experience.  I’m sure that if you make the Portuguese countryside your destination, it will be a memorable experience too.

 

Wonderful views in the Serra do Caramulo.

Wonderful views in the Serra do Caramulo.

 

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Spoof wildlife commentaries by Teens 6 students

Wildlife documentaries.  Aren’t they great?  What a fantastic way to learn about the amazing animals we share our planet with.  We think the best ones are those which combine great films of the animals with an interesting commentary by the presenter.  That way we can really understand more about the lives and behaviour of the animals.

But what if the subjects of these documentaries weren’t animals but ourselves?  What strange human behaviour would the presenters tell us about?

Students in our Teens 6 group have been busy producing their own wildlife commentaries.  The species they focus on?  Teenage boys and girls and teachers.

You can enjoy their commentaries by clicking the links here:

A study into the lives of teenagers

A study into how teachers behave

How do young Portuguese people behave?

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Desert Island Texts

Imagine you were marooned for a year on a desert island.  Given that you have all the practical things you need to survive, what comforts would you want with you?  Perhaps a favourite book and a song (and something to play it on).

This was the question two students in our Advanced group recently answered.  The results are the two articles here for you to enjoy.  What do you think of their choices?

Can you imagine living all by yourself on a deserted island for a year?  No friends, no phone, no Internet.  It’d probably drive you crazy!  But I don’t see it that way.  In my opinion this would be a terrific opportunity to get away from society’s stereotypes, consumerism and lack of individuality.  How great this chance for spiritual rebirth would be.

However, I can’t fully ignore the existence of civilisation, can I?  So I might as well take two things I love with me on this introspective journey:  The Perks of being a Wallflower and You and me.

Surprisingly, I’ve only ever read Stephen Chbosky’s masterpiece once (I suppose taking this book to the deserted island would soon change that) but since reading it I can’t stop thinking about it.  So simplistic, yet so thought-provoking, The Perks of being a Wallflower immediately took its place in my list of all-time favourite books thanks to its unique characters and memorable, meaningful quotes (“I feel infinite” or “We accept the love we think we deserve”) and because I’m a bit of a wallflower myself.

Regarding my choice of song, I couldn’t be happier with You and Me by Penny and The Quarters.  It’s not just a great song but it also has a great back story.  It was recorded in the 1970s but never released by a record label.  A few decades after, the demo was found in a garage sale and it finally rose to fame in the 2010 film Blue Valentine.  After that, people started looking for the band until, in 2011, a 60 year-old woman finally came forward and claimed the song which she thought had been lost forever.

These are two things I could never get tired of because they are so inspirational and because I’m sure they would keep me motivated on the desert island (survival tools if you like!).  They may even help restore my faith in human kind.

by Ana

Address:  Chacachacare

Could you live for a whole year, alone on a deserted island?   Without the comforts and luxuries of home?  Without the tenderness of your family?  With just a book and a piece of music for company?

Besides the fact that I would be far away from loved ones, I think I would be thrilled to face this challenge.  Although I’m no MacGyver, I’m pretty sure I would survive even under such extreme circumstances.  However, to do this I would have to take with me a couple of things to keep me sane:  a book by Pepetela called A Montanha da Água Lilás and a song, Last Day of Winter by Pelican.

I would choose this book because it has an extremely important moral underlying the idea of animals working.  In line with other literary classics like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, it’s a book for all ages and open to many interpretations.  Particularly about the “Jacalupis”, a mythical beast which appears in the story.

As far as the song goes, from a massive list of options, I would choose Last Day of Winter just because it never fails to make me think from another point of view about the world and how we behave.  We are made of memories, so this is the song I’d take for old time’s sake.

This book, this song, added together with the whisper of the waves breaking in the sunshine…I’d create my own planet for myself on my own island.  It might not mean I would survive the whole year, but one thing I’m certain of is that boredom would never be a problem on the island.

By João

Thanks to Ana and João for letting us share your articles on the International House Santa Clara blog.  Great work guys.

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Lessons for life: Pre-FCE 2012-13

In September, at the start of their course, our Pre-FCE students at International House Santa Clara read and discussed the “lessons in life” in this photo posted on facebook by GoodwillLibrarian…

5 lessons in life from Dr Seuss taken from facebook.com/GoodwillLibrarian

Then, using some of the vocabulary and structures in this list, and some extra phrasal verbs they’d been studying recently, they came up with their own lessons for life.  We thought we’d share them with you…

Pre-FCE students’ lessons for life – International House Santa Clara, September 2012

Pre-FCE students' lessons for life (2) - International House Santa Clara, September 2012

Pre-FCE students’ lessons for life (2) – International House Santa Clara, September 2012

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A new tourist attraction for Coimbra – proposals from Teens 7

Our Teens 7 students at International House Santa Clara have been learning vocabulary related to travel and tourism in class recently.  In one lesson they discussed ideas about how to attract more tourists to Coimbra.  They then wrote up their discussions as proposals.  We hope you enjoy reading them.  Which ideas do you think would be most successful?

Proposal 1

The aim of this proposal is to outline 3 suggestions for attracting more tourists to Coimbra.  In total 8 ideas were discussed and we made a short-list of three ideas that we thought would be the most effective.

Ideas we rejected

We decided that a water park would not be very successful because it would be very expensive and in times of financial crises people don’t have much money to spend on activities like this.

We didn’t think the Ferris Wheel would be a good idea either, because in Coimbra the space is very limited so we wouldn’t be able to put something of this dimension up in our city.

Lastly, the marine park was rejected due to the fact that the animals would suffer because of the weather.

Ideas we approved

On the other hand, we believe that an adventure park in Choupal would bring tourists to Coimbra because young people like doing outdoor sports and activities.

A dry ski slope would be a good idea because it’s something new and different; people would like this because it’s something that they don’t have the opportunity to do very frequently.

However, our final choice was for a theme park.  We feel that this would be the most popular attraction.  Everyone likes rides and roller coasters.

Conclusion

To sum up, our opinion is that a theme park would be the most popular attraction for visitors because everyone likes to have fun and sometimes this is a good way to do it.

By Ines, Sofia and Claudia

Proposal 2

The aim of this proposal is to outline 3 suggestions that will attract more tourists to Coimbra.  We discussed 8 ideas and we made a shortlist of 3 ideas that we thought would be the most effective.

Ideas we rejected

We decided that building a new museum would not be very successful because it’s not for young people.  Similarly, we did not think that a ferris wheel would work.  The reason for this is that it is boring.

Although we thought that a marine park/aquarium or a zoo might be popular, we dismissed the idea since we thought it would make the animals suffer.

Ideas we approved

First of all, we chose a theme park because we feel an adrenaline rush there.  It would be popular with a lot of people.  Secondly, we decided that a water park would appeal to young people.  Finally, it was felt that a dry ski slope would be a great way to increase the number of visitors to the area.  It would entertain young people because it’s different and fun.

By Sofia, Joana and Francisco

Proposal 3

The aim of this proposal is to outline 3 suggestions for attracting more tourists to Coimbra.  In total 8 ideas were discussed and we made a shortlist of three ideas that we thought would be the most effective.

Ideas we rejected

We have rejected a marine zoo.  We do not think it will be very successful because it’s too expensive making the natural habitats of marine animals.

Similarly, we did not think that a race track would work for the reason that we already have one near Coimbra.

Although we thought that a new museum might be popular, we dismissed this idea since we thought it would be difficult to find the theme for it. We already have a natural history museum, Roman museum and a military museum in the town.

Lastly, a water park was rejected due to the fact that in Coimbra we don’t have the weather that is conducive to going to a water park throughout the year.

Ideas we approved

First of all, we chose a beautiful Ferris Wheel because we feel that it could be a good attraction for people of all ages.

Secondly, we decided that a theme park would appeal to teenagers.

Finally, it was felt that a dry ski slope would be a great way to increase the number of visitors to the area.  It would bring a lot of tourists to Coimbra because it would be the first dry ski slope in Portugal.

By Alexandra, Claudio, Mariana and Beatriz

We think there are some fantastic ideas in these proposals.  Theme parks seemed to be a popular choice with everyone.  Have you visited any of the theme parks mentioned in this article in English on The Portugal Daily View website?

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This is Halloween – International House Santa Clara Style

Sing-a-long Halloween video from our Teens 5 students under the expert movie making direction of their teacher Stella. Enjoy!

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