It’s been about a month since I arrived and boy, do i have a lot to tell you guys about! This post will just be an intro to Coimbra and #unilife
So Coimbra is pretty much equidistant from Lisbon and Porto. ( The light green section in map below)
My uni, Universidade de Coimbra, is a world heritage sight.
The interior of my faculty (faculdade de letras) seems to be somewhat unchanged since the 70’s, but the history of this university goes back further.
Established in 1209, it’s one of the oldest university’s in the world. ( I will probably do another blog just with pictures of the architecture, it’s truely beautiful.) Unsurprisingly, there are many old traditions that are still upheld today, which I’ll get to later…
FUN FACT/ STORY
The first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques, made Coimbra his capital city. He was a young teenager, who came from a royal lineage. He became King, well, gave himself the title of King. He had a bad relationship with his mum, as he had opposing opinions to his mum ( like most teenagers) and his mum just didn’t get him, you know? So he casually raised an army and exiled her, whilst also saving the south of Portugal from being taken over by the Moors. Teenagers those days!
The pace… of life…. is …. somewhat…. relaxed.
The pace of administration and organisation here is no exception. It’s slow. No, not slow, painstakingly relaxed. Don’t expect anything to be done within a week and you’ll be happy. But in compensation the buildings are beautiful and old, and the people are lovely.
The streets are run by cats.
If my contract didn’t explicitly forbid us from having dogs and cats or any other animal that might be messy in the building, I would have knicked one by now.
Also, if you like hills and narrow streets, you’ll like Coimbra. No need to join the gym here. If you want to go through the Baixa ( the old part of town, where the cats roam), then forget your car and as long as you’re wearing comfortable shoes (i.e. no heels. All streets here are cobbled here), you’ll be fine.
Traditions & Students
Nearly all 2nd year students and above wear a suit and cape, like this:
Hogwarts: A common sight in Coimbra
These are your ‘dotoures’ (Doctors). The Freshers (freshmen) are called Coloiros/ Coloiras.
There is also something called a Praxe (initiation), which involves a lot of shouting of orders from os dotoures to the coloiros, drinking, chanting, shouting and walking like this:
In order to get to wear the suit and cape, you have to do a Praxe. Sometimes, they look quite fun, funny or harmless like:
– running in circles around trees wishing it to grow big and strong, like a hippies on LSD.
– declaring your undying love for somebody (a very awkward moment when the coloiro I live with was instructed to do this to me)
Others make you wish you could steal the poor freshers away and rock them gently, telling them “It’s ok. It doesn’t have to be like this!”. For example:
-Jogging on-the-spot of each of the 125 steps, singing a song about going up the steps whilst counting them ( like 10 green bottles standing on the wall kinda thing.) If you get the number wrong, you have to do it all over again.
– or seeing them being shouted at, spit covering their faces and they must stand there without flinching and just take it.