Hy Khong
January 2, 2015

I work for my school’s newspaper, The Bowdoin Orient. Before arriving in Europe, all us editors-at-large (plus the EIC from last year, currently in Sicily) planned to meet up somewhere. We originally wanted to go to Berlin (too many timing conflicts), then Vienna (flights too expensive for most of us), before deciding on Lisbon for Thanksgiving. Our friends had told us it was their favorite trip while abroad last year, and it’s up there for me as well.

(I use “was” because I’m writing this a month late oops)

- Home Lisbon Hostel is a dream. They greet you with a delicious Portuguese cherry drink and have a very welcoming atmosphere with friendly and understanding staff. The hostel owner, colloquially dubbed “Mama,” cooks dinner every night and since two friends and I arrived in Lisbon a day before the others, we had Thanksgiving dinner there. We definitely didn’t eat turkey (even though she cooked one?), perhaps it was some kind of pork, or game, I’m not entirely sure, but it was delicious. Mama walked around, talked to all the guests, and told us the drinks were bottomless. If that’s not your ideal home, I’m not sure what is.
- Our fantastic AirBnB was on the fourth floor of a really nice and central street with stupid expensive stores so we were #treatingourselves. Just kidding because nothing in Portugal is expensive!!!!!
- Lisbon’s colors are incredible with beautiful and non-tacky shades of pink, yellow, and blue and painted tiles.
- On the bus from the airport, a friend and I noticed that the Vodafone Mexefest (a series of concerts and events) was happening that weekend – with St.Vincent performing the next night!! We freaked out, promising ourselves we’d find a way in, but kind of lost hope when we realized the box office website was wack. I tried my luck the day of the concert and called the number, explained to the box office folks we don’t speak Portuguese but would love 6 tickets. They only had 7 tickets left, so we booked it to the venue (got lost, of course) only to run into multiple people telling us there were no tickets left. As we were walking away, a woman appeared from behind the counter and asked if I had called earlier and said that she set aside 6 tickets just for us. By the way, the patron saint of Lisbon is Saint Vincent. So homeboy was watching and #blessed us. Forever grateful. Things have a cool way of working out.
- Incredibly thankful for good friends and stimulating and meaningful conversations as it was hard in Nantes to have thoughtful conversations when I was always paranoid some brat was gonna give me the side-eye for not speaking in French. My friends and I all had similar views and feelings about being abroad, growing up, and the future. My friend working in Sicily said that being abroad has made the transition from undergrad to “the real world” more seamless because she’s had the time to just focus on exploring new things, rather than be in New York, for example, where it’s so easy to get lost in the competitiveness of post-grad life. In a way, I think all my friends abroad can relate to this, because we’ve been able to focus our energies on our own discoveries, whether of ourselves or the world or both, rather than rigorous traditional academics. Perhaps that’s why while sitting atop one of Lisbon’s seven hills, with a bomb view of the city, I realized for the first time that I’m a lot more mature than I thought I was. Cool.

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Hy Khong

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I&#39;m a third-year student at Bowdoin College studying Visual Arts and dabbling in anything else that seems interesting. Always carrying around a camera, I&#39;m one to believe that even the smallest moments are ones we should preserve. I&#39;ve been to France before, but I was unfortunately too naïve and young to appreciate it. I&#39;m hoping this time I&#39;ll be able to thoroughly experience the Nantais way of life, and have the musings and photos to share with you all along the way.</span></p>

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