Portland, Oregon, is a vibrant and progressive city of nearly 650,000 people in the urban area, and 2.7 million in the Portland metropolitan area. The Rose City has a great mix of cultural, culinary, educational, and outdoor attractions. There are more than 30 "Portlands" in the US, but this one arguably has more bridges, more good music, and more fleece jackets than any of the others.


Public Transportation

A trolley car service and buses run from PSU through downtown, across one of the bridges and to the East side. Tri-Met runs buses and the MAX train. (There is a handy “trip planner” feature on the Tri-Met site.)

Cabs, Uber, and Lyft

There are several cab companies, including Broadway Cab at 503-333-3333. Portland also has Lyft and Uber drivers; you can use those apps to help you get around.

Rental Vehicles

If you have a rental vehicle, consider taking out the extra insurance. This is a good thing to research before you get here as it increases price quite a bit.

Useful info: In Oregon, it is against the law to pump your own petrol! So, pull into the petrol station (we call them gas stations) and the employee will ask you what kind you want (almost always it will be “regular”), how much, and how you will be paying.

Sales Tax

There is no sales tax on purchases in Oregon. Bordering states (such as Washington, where Seattle is located) DO have sales tax. If you go to Washington State you will pay approximately 10 percent on each purchase in taxes. Hotels and car hires tend to have additional charges beyond the stated prices, so be sure to ask before you book! We do not have VAT, so you do not get that money back.


You will probably get the best rate if you change money at a bank at home. The kiosks at the airports are more expensive, and most US banks will not change money unless you have an account. If you use ATMs here, you will, of course, get US currency — and each of the local financial institutions that own the ATMs have different fees, usually $2-$4 per transaction. (Your own bank may charge a fee too.)  There are ATMs on PSU campus that are for something called “credit unions” vs banks, and their rates are typically lower. You might want to check around and find the best deals as you wander around the city.


Portland’s weather is similar to Belfast’s, although we tend to have a real summer! Use the weather.com site or a phone app to get local weather forecasts (just make sure you’re pulling up the weather in Portland, Oregon, not Portland, Maine).

General Ignorance

Please do not be offended when people meet you and drone on about how wonderful “Ireland” is, all the while making clear that they think that means “Dublin.”

In general, people in America are not very clued in about the difference between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – we’re working on it!