If you are coming to Coimbra for a period of studies, this text is to you! Here you have a to-do list before coming to this wonderful city:
1 – Do your homework
You may have not noticed it, but your Erasmus starts before your arrival. If you want a smooth integration, search everything about Coimbra, join the facebook groups and follow the most important pages for Erasmus students in Coimbra. If you are reading this text you must have already started your homework, but we can help you finishing it:
2 - Get a buddy!
In University of Coimbra there is the Buddy System, where lots of Portuguese students volunteer to help you in your arrival to the city. You must receive an email from International Relations Department of your university asking you if you want a buddy, but if you don’t receive the email the best thing to do is to write there asking for one. The other universities of Coimbra haven't an organized buddy system, but there are always a good support to all the Erasmus students. And, of course, ESN Coimbra is always here to give you the best support when your University can't help you.
3 – Relax!
Before coming there must be only two words constantly repeted in your mind "Erasmus, Coimbra, Erasmus, Coimbra"... when it happens just wait, breath and relax! It is very important that you don’t get in panic even if you don’t have an apartment before your arrival. Remember that it is not a good choice to transfer money to any landlord or rental company without prior visiting the place and checking out the room/apartment and the surrounding area. If you cannot visit it, ask a friend to do it for you. If you don't have a friend here, wait until your arrival. Although, sometimes, many photos are available, there is nothing better than see for yourself or someone who you trust! We always suggest you to stay in a hostel for 1 or 2 nights and to look for a room after your arrival. If you want a good hostel you can always choose an ESN partner such as Serenata Hostel (http://www.serenatahostel.com/en/), where you can get discounts if you are an Erasmus or Exchange student. Be prepared to fight for a room, because it will be a hard search but it is also the safest choice you can make. You can get more information if you read the Accomodation Section of this Erasmus Coimbra Survival Guide.
4 – Prepare your bags for the best time of your life
Before preparing your bags it is better to get to know two things: Coimbra is not as hot as most of people think, so make sure you bring hot clothes; to prepare your stuff before after your goodbye party is always a bad idea (and this is an advice of someone who have been in Erasmus twice)!
5 – Prepare your stay in Coimbra
If you have followed our advice, the first thing to do when you arrive to Coimbra is to look for the hostel and get ready to look for a place to stay during your Erasmus. There are a few ways of doing it and they're all listed in the Accomodation Section of this Erasmus Coimbra Survival Guide.
6 – Pay attention to the Bureaucracies
After finding a flat you must go to your University to get everything ready for your studies. Most of the Erasmus and Exchange students come to University of Coimbra and those must go to the International Relations Office, at Casa da Lusofonia (the same place of ESN office). Either you are a UC or other university student, check the attending schedule in you university website before going there. To University of Coimbra students the best way to guarantee that you don't forget anything you need is to visit this page. You must bring some photos and…all the documents you they gave you at University and, of course, photos, the Learning Agreement, the Acceptance Letter and the Passport or ID card! In summary: bring everything you have that can be useful!
Because you will need to be patient: lots of foreign students come every semester so you will probably need to wait a long time to get all the bureaucracies done. And, believe us, you won’t want to know that you will need to get there once again because there is one paper missing! But if you think that after goin to DRI (International Relations Office) you're done... you're wrong: you will probably need to go to the Citizen Shop (Loja do Cidadão) and to the International Relations Division of your Faculty. So, when you go to DRI don’t forget to ask which are the next things you need to do!
7 – Get integrated in a different culture
There are lots of volunteer associations that you can join and you will still have time to go to parties, to travel and to study. Get involved. And if you have any doubts remember you can always write a private message to https://www.facebook.com/ESNCOIMBRA. You are in Erasmus and, therefore, you must make it the time of your life (so on)!
8 – Join the events, write in the ESN Facebook group and enjoy your time in Coimbra!
Always remember that Portuguese people are, generally, very helpful but also not so confident about their English speaking skills. So if you need any help ask them: most of them will do all they can to help you! Just take take the action: ask them for help or they may be too shy of their English skills to help – even if they want to do it. And with this, the boring part is done...! Now it's time to get surprised by the Harry Potter capes, the wonderful Fado singers, all the traditions… to get in love with the city and its people!
It's time to be an Erasmus student in Coimbra!