Block seminar - NOVA style
We have been very much looking forward to the block seminar as we have heard lots of nice stories about it from former CEMS students. At the same time we were a little bit anxious about the possible workload, as NOVA has its reputation of being a demanding university. We had high expectations regarding the content of the seminar and we must say that they were more than fulfilled. The topic of the seminar was ‘From creativity to innovation’ and it took place in the hub of innovation-in the beautiful city of Cascais, which is located on the coast of the Atlantic ocean.
During the seminar we got acquainted with the innovation methods of some Portuguese companies. We had presentations from CEOs of major Portuguese companies such as EDP Renewables, Outsystems and Activo Bank. Furthermore, the major of Cascais gave us some insights into the innovative methods they use to retain talent and attract international young entrepreneurs- as it is very appealing to be Johnny Depp’s neighbor (as he also owns a house in this beautiful city). During the seminar we were divided into groups and each group had to solve one challenge described by the above mentioned CEOs. The exercise was intense but fun at the same time. Moreover, the CEMS Office also organized lots of extracurricular activities for us. The seminar was usually taking place every day from 9 am until 5 pm with interactive discussions and case studies. Afterwards we had 2 hours of free time, during which we usually went to the beach, which is one of the biggest surf paradises in Portugal, so we had the chance to try surfing, which was fun, although we did not really succeed for the first time. So we have to try it again!
Even though we have learnt a lot, in our opinion the block seminar was more about getting to know each other and all of the programs gave us a possibility to do networking and making new friends. For example one of the challenges was to cycle around Cascais and take photos in front major tourist attractions. We also had the possibility to visit the Monastery of Jerónimos, which is located at the point where the major Portuguese discoveries set sail, so it can be considered the Silicon Valley of that time. We also had a visit to the Electricity Museum, the best part of which was having lunch right in the middle of the museum.
Almost every night, the CEMS Club Lisbon organized parties for us. We had a chance to meet CEMS alumni at the white party, which was organized at the beach. We also had a wonderful sunset party, where we watched the sunset together. Moreover, we also had a retro party at the hotel, which had to be kept in secret from the hotel management, which was also a challenge with 66 people.
All in all, we got to know the Portuguese lifestyle, for example having dinner every night from 9pm or being late all the time. We also had the chance to try the Portuguese cuisine, which involves 100 different ways of preparing codfish, out of which we tried at least 6. Portuguese people are very extrovert, they are extremely friendly and caring. As an example, Rita, our CEMS coordinator always calls us ‘ beautiful people’.
To conclude, we enjoyed ourselves to the fullest, we learnt a lot about Portuguese culture and innovation and we made many new friends. We can definitely recommend this wonderful experience to future CEMSies, as this 5 days will remain a remarkable memory for us.
Nóri, Viki, Sziszi
Story & photos: Nóra Kollár, Viktória Oxána Kis, Szilvia Mozsár