One of the things we learned in Portugal was that students and academia, in general, are maintaining some old traditions. It is not unusual to see Brit students wearing some unique clothing. At some universities in Eastern Europe professors still wear robes on special occasions, a custom you barely notice, for example, in Germany.
During our stay in Portugal, we saw students in Lisbon wearing black and white clothing. You could distinguish them easily from others. The same was the case in Coimbra, the location of one of the oldest European universities. We saw students wearing not merely black and white unique suites, but also robes (a bit Hogwarts like).
Probably this is not daily, but only on special occasions. The guide told us, however, even stories of special rules in students’ household communities, which are still maintained by the students’ community. One of them is about Repúblicas.
Repúblicas, a cherished tradition in Coimbra, Portugal, are an integral part of the vibrant student culture that flourishes in the historic university town. Originating in the 19th century as a response to the growing student population, Repúblicas have evolved into unique student housing communities that shape the social fabric of the city. At the heart of Repúblicas lies the idea of community living, where students come together to share not only living spaces but also experiences, friendships, and support. These shared houses, often accommodating students from the same faculty or with common interests, create an environment of camaraderie and solidarity.
Within each República, a sense of autonomy and self-governance prevails. Students elect their leaders, known as “résidentes,” who assume responsibility for managing the República’s affairs, maintaining discipline, and organizing various activities. This fosters a sense of ownership and shared responsibility among the residents. Repúblicas are vibrant hubs of cultural and social interaction. These houses pulsate with life as students engage in intellectual discussions, organize events, and create lasting memories. Themed parties, music performances, and gatherings become integral parts of the República’s identity, strengthening the bonds among residents and fostering a lively atmosphere. Beyond their internal dynamics, Repúblicas also play a significant role in the broader community. They actively participate in city-wide events, contribute to charitable initiatives, and engage in cultural exchanges. Through collaboration and cooperation, students from different Repúblicas enhance the social fabric of Coimbra and make a positive impact on the local community.
Living in a República is seen as an essential part of the Coimbra student experience. It cultivates a deep sense of identity, belonging, and tradition. The unique customs and rituals passed down from one generation to the next create a sense of continuity and connect students to their rich heritage. Repúblicas are not just places of residence; they are cradles of lasting friendships, intellectual exploration, and personal growth. They embody the spirit of Coimbra’s student culture and contribute to the vibrant tapestry of the city. As students come together in these communal houses, they forge bonds that last a lifetime and create memories that will forever be cherished.