GRIP, Research Abroad Love Deeply, Live Simply

October 26, 2018
By Cindy Luo, CAS '20

University of Minho Law School - Braga, Portugal

I enjoy reading about all types of places, people, and events. And I find myself falling in love with these things even before I have my first real encounter with them. With Portugal, I wanted to be culturally open-minded, to have an organic first impression of the country and everything that comes along with this amazing opportunity to both intern and travel. Needless to say, by the end of these two months, I've fallen in love with more things than one about life in Portugal. It's been both vivid and vague and peaceful and bustling. It's been indescribable and hard to pinpoint at times. But regardless of the form it comes in, it's been meaningful and filled to the brim with memories, sensations, and everyday routines that I will never forget. 

I've fallen in love with watching the sun set from the top of Bom Jesus do Monte. Patches of vibrant pink, saturated orange, and soft lavender stretch effortlessly across the sky. It's a subtle and muted kind of beauty that becomes intensely more striking each time you see it. You admire the rolling hills dotted with beautiful villas and small houses before you make the zig-zagging climb up 577 steps to the top. You've done this hike too many times to count, but each time brings you so much simple joy and renewed purpose. You reach the top and try to catch your breath, but the view takes your breath away again. 

I've fallen in love with the stillness of the early mornings and the cozy warmth of the rising sun. You can hear a few birds chirping and some roosters crowing in the background. You head out to meditate on the balcony, a natural part of your morning routine not to be neglected. You feel the cold tiled floor beneath your feet, and you use the white leather couch cushion to sit comfortably in a cross-legged position. You fold your hands together and start to take a deep breath before shutting your eyes. You alternate between focusing on your breath and letting your thoughts wander. You become an observer of how your mind works. 

I've fallen in love with all the ah-ha! moments when I realize I've decoded some of the sophisticated and esoteric legal language that has been thrust upon me. You decide that there is indeed a way to reward yourself. You remember the conveniently placed law school vending machine downstairs next to the equally expertly-placed expresso vending machine. You think to yourself, "I have to stop bringing my spare change to work. I'll wait another hour before I snack." Your plan goes awry, and you find yourself devouring a scrumptious nutella kitkat five minutes later. Walking home, you start thinking about the creamy, sweet consistency of pastel de nata and it's crispy, flaky edges. You can smell the butter and the cinnamon. You imagine yourself taking a small bite, fully knowing that you will devour at least two more. It's fine. They're always on sale at Pingo Doce. 

I've fallen in love with the feeling of overall exhaustion in my body and aches in my feet from a jam-packed excursion. You returned the night before from another weekend travel adventure, and you can't believe it's already Monday morning. The alarm goes off again, prompting you to reluctantly drag yourself out of bed. The soreness lingers, and your eyes refuse to open fully. You think back to this crazy weekend, and it's the distinctly good kind of crazy and soreness that leaves you wanting more; inevitably, this has been the norm for most of your weekends in Portugal. You love the pre-trip planning and hovering over a map. You love trying to blend in even though you know perfectly well how much you stand out.

This kind of love is the reason I travel. To feel so alive even among the stillness and solitude, to be lost in my own thoughts and observations. I travel to feel this kind of love, childlike wonder, and overflowing appreciation for every new sensation and experience. It's a certain kind of love that draws out the best in you and allows you to love deeply and live simply.


The Global Research and Internship Program (GRIP) provides outstanding undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to intern or conduct research abroad for 8 to 12 weeks over the summer. Participants gain career-enhancing experience and global exposure that is essential in a global workforce. Placements and funding awards are available.