Week 2 & 3: Settling In

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September 20, 2013 by mariannat92

It’s day 18! Which means I’ve been here for two and a half weeks already, scary. Here’s what I’ve been up to since last time…


Unfortunately it has now become apparent why we are actually here, as university has indeed started. In the Faculdade de Letras we are spoilt though, this is the inside of one of the main teaching buildings!


As Erasmus students we are allowed to choose whatever classes we like as long as they add up to a certain number of credits (different for each uni in the UK, but I have to do 30, or 6 modules). Obviously my highest priority in terms of modules was the content (hi Mum) but I am thrilled to announce that I have a three day weekend! Yes that’s right, ladies and gentlemen, no classes on Fridays!

Due to my insistance on a three day weekend my timetable is pretty harsh, I have classes at 9am on all my other days and don’t finish until quite late (classes can finish at 8pm here, mad) but never mind. Each module here has 4 hours of classes, and I am taking 6 instead of the 4 I would usually take in Manchester, so I have 24 hours per week! Makes a change from 12 last year…

I’m taking… Portuguese Literature, Brazilian Literature, Brazilian Culture, Camoes Studies, Spanish and Latin. Fun fun fun.

So far my classes are good and people are being really nice considering that, really, Erasmus students must be quite annoying. So all good.


It’s Freshers at Coimbra! Not quite the same as Freshers in the UK, here it involves quite a few more capes, chanting and strange bonding activities. For example, on the way to my very first real lesson on Monday I saw the Law Faculty chanting and marching around the old University district, the European Studies department forcing freshers to do loops around our faculty screaming ‘Somos de Letras’ and flapping like birds, the Classics department whipping theirs with what can only be described as very long wooden spoons and the Chemistry Faculty chanting like demonic American Football coaches and having their freshers do silly silly silly amounts of push ups in between crates of beer.

So as you can tell, it’s quite different!

Me and Tash decided to get our very own Freshers experience by joining a society… We chose the Orfeon Academico de Coimbra, one of the main university choirs here that was established in 1880 and is one of the best choirs I have ever seen (have a look on Youtube if you don’t believe me). We are feeling a little out of place in the singing department and a bit confused as to why they let us join, but they are such nice people and they’re making us feel SO welcome! So far we’ve only sung with them once (I went to watch last week too just to decide whether to do it) but afterwards we were initiated quickly (standing spinning on a chair while answering lots of questions about yourself in Portuguese is hard but fun) and went for drinks in their common room in the Union. One of the guys in the club gave us a tour of the trophy rooms there too which was AWESOME. They even have a whole ivory tusk with their name carved into it, presented by Mozambique to the choir. Fancy.

Organisational Chaos

It is Portugal, so we have of course run into a couple of obstacles…

A highlight of this has been trying to open a bank account. Surprisingly Santander Portugal were really nice to me and, despite some delays, my account was opened within a couple of days. Santander UK however was a totally different story when I wanted to transfer my cash across to Portugal. You’d have thought that a bank transfer between two branches of the same bank would be pretty simple but apparently you have to ring the UK helpline (50p per minute from overseas) and stay on hold for TWENTY MINUTES. And then, the man on the other end will be really rude and hang up because you don’t have the right code for the transfer (then found with a quick google) so you will have to do it AGAIN.

Eventually though I did it. Not sure my phone bill is thanking me much though…

In other organisational news, I am not really being very organised about food and things. Going to rectify the situation this evening at Jumbos, a hypermarket near here. Apparently they even have international food, very exciting. Also I have the most horrendous cold which is not helping matters.

Being Tourists

So far I’ve been to Lisbon, Berlengas Island and exploring around Coimbra. Stay tuned for a post about that this week…

Other stuff

My Portuguese housemate has arrived! She is lovely.

Some of the British people are already going home 😦 Don’t worry, they haven’t dropped out, it’s just that they were only here for an intensive language course. Still very sad though!

All my stuff arrived from England! Thanks to Mumma Thomson who sent another suitcase out to me with all my other things in it, I now have coats, hiking boots, heavy jumpers… Useful stuff too of course, like a tin box marked ‘Crap’ that Bruce gave me for my birthday. Now my room finally feels like home, woo!


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