This article results from research comprised of fieldwork ethnography, participant observation, collection of life stories, interviews and testimonials of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, living in Portugal. We focus on a particular experience of the research named Living in a Different Culture (LDC), which took place between 2017 and 2019, aimed at participants who shared the goal of becoming university students, before migration. LDC supported students who wanted to continue their academic training and those wanting to find alternative pathways of inclusion and autonomy, using new academic skills and knowledge. The project included a tailored course in Portuguese society and culture, created with an anthropological lens, Portuguese language classes and other disciplines. Several of the students who attended the course, in both academic years, continued their studies, or found work within their area of expertise. Obstacles highlighted in the paper perpetuated cycles of precarious living and structural violence. We argue that by devaluing migrants and refugees’ knowledges and skills, host society loses important resources to its own development. We conclude by stating that projects such as LDC require a long-term commitment with interinstitutional support, a sustainability strategy, and a decolonial mindset.