September 10, 2013 by mariannat92
So guess what, last night was my Coimbra one-week-iversary! Scary. I’ve been pretty busy so far, here’s what i’ve been up to…
Not going to lie, last Monday was pretty stressful. Now, I’d been pretty organised about this and packed all my stuff up to leave the night before. I was pretty proud of myself and managed to have a relaxing early morning breakfast with my Mum and say my goodbyes to Dad, Bruce and even Milo (the dog…) before getting in the car with three and a half hours to go before my flight. To any of you from Suffolk, three and a half hours from there to Luton seems a bit excessive, but me and Mum had run out of things to do at home and thought we’d better be safe than sorry. BOY WERE WE RIGHT. No sooner had we pulled on to the A14 than the traffic came to a total standstill, and we were there for over an hour!!! Needless to say these were some of the most nerve-wracking moments of my life as I imagined myself never making it to Portugal at all. Luckily we eventually broke through the traffic and Mum drove at her very best speed all the way, eventually making it to Luton with 20 minutes to spare before check in closed! So wooooooo go Mum!
Said our goodbyes at the airport and I went through (straight to the gate, alas. No airport shopping for me.). It was a great flight, very easy, and I ended up sitting next to two men from just outside Coimbra who were really helpful! The train to Coimbra was also fab and only 22€! Unfortunately my Timberlands did have to go in the bag cos of the heat, but otherwise the rest of the journey was brilliant.
Arrived at my hostel quite late and had a wander into town to find some food. It is all very pretty and I took a few photos then (some of the only ones I’ve taken unfortunately!). Went back to the hostel after that, had a bit of a whatsapp with Mum and went to bed, barely believing that I was actually here!
The House Hunt
This was the main focal point of my time last week. UUUURGH. Before I came to Coimbra everyone had told me that it was dead easy to find a house, so I didn’t bother booking anything online except for a couple of nights in a hostel. And yeah it was easy in the end, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t stressful!
Here the student’s union makes an official list of accredited houses every year, a little like the ones we get online in Manchester, except they are little leaflets that you buy and then go through by hand. Before I came I had already agreed to live with my friend Maria from university and we were desperate to live in a good location, so I was looking for a reasonably decent place for two people, one of whom (Maria) is only staying until January, in the centre of the old city. I thought that this would be quite easy but after ringing half the book (and discovering that quite a lot of landlords reeeeeally don’t like Brits for some reason), seeing quite a lot of rubbish houses, and a couple of really nice places that infuriatingly said they wouldn’t accept people for less than a whole academic year, I finally came across the house where I live now. Yeah, that’s right, MY HOUSE. Eeeeeeeeeee!
The house is right in the centre of the old town and it’s at the bottom of the hill so you can get to everything without actually dying of exhaustion (if you’ve ever been to Coimbra you’ll know what I’m talking about!). It’s quite old-fashioned, which is exactly what I wanted, but it’s also great inside. We even have an oven, apparently quite a luxury in Portuguese student houses!!
Here is my room, with some very pretty pink sheets I bought at the local hypermarket on Sunday.
Here’s the kitchen…
I also have a cute little stone balcony that looks into a tiny square (basically just a junction but for pedestrians). Here’s my view!
I’m living with Maria, an Italian guy called Stefano who is awesome and another girl from Portugal who won’t be back from holidays for another couple of weeks. There are two spare rooms too so hopefully somebody will take them soon and we’ll be a full set! The landlord and landlady are lovely too and have a shop just round the corner which is very handy.
Coimbra! and Erasmus!
What we’re here for apparently isn’t classes, it’s cheap beers on the Praça Republica! Woooo!
So far the Erasmus students are pretty much the only people in Coimbra… The locals tend to avoid the student areas if they possibly can, which is totally understandable, and the Portuguese students don’t get here for another week or so. So if I’m honest, I haven’t spoken that much Portuguese yet. Oops.
On my second day in Coimbra I went to view a flat and met a British girl called Florence, who it turns out is actually from a village very very close to mine(!) and is really really nice, and she introduced me to all her friends she had made on the intensive Erasmus Portuguese course! So that was brilliant, thanks to her I was recognising loads of people almost instantly and making friends from day 1! (Well, two…)
The Erasmus scene here is kind of like Freshers, in that you go out every single night and you’re meeting so many people it’s damn near impossible to remember anyone’s name, but it’s so different in others… for example, that ‘going out’ here means going to the Praça da Republica for a chat and a few beers, which are always 1€ or less, pretty sweet! and then heading up the hill to Sé Velha, the square next to the city cathedral, for more beers and more chats. We do have a couple of clubs here but it’s really quite different to Manchester!! It’s great though, you get to talk to everyone and, of course, force your Portuguese on unsuspecting Brazilian students…
Coimbra is a really small city but seems like it will get really really busy soon, I can’t think of anywhere like it in the UK. You can tell it gets really busy when most of the students arrive, most of the bars and restaurante are boarded up at the moment with ‘Returning 14th September’ signs so I’ll report back then!! Some students have already come back and we keep seeing people running around in huge black capes – a sure sign that they are on their way back!
Birthday in Lisbon!
On Friday it was my birthday so me and my Coimbra friends all went out for dancing and lots of tequila at midnight and then I went to Lisbon the next day! More on that later…
I am now the proud owner of many many many pieces of paper that make my life possible, including a really very irritating one telling me that despite being an EU citizen I am only permitted to remain until the 30th of August and then I MUST REPORT TO THE CITY COUNCIL SO THEY CAN GET VERY ANGRY AND THEN… Give me another one. Why do we even have these for Europeans??? What are they even going to do to you? Call the palace?
Now all I have to do is register my module choices. Hopefully that all goes to plan and then I’m officially a Coimbra student!