Being a former student of the University of Coimbra myself, I felt compelled to publish a post introducing my readers to the life of the Students of Coimbra. In case you are not aware of what I am speaking about, Coimbra is the Portuguese Oxford, a university town, where the students make up about 25% of the resident population. This means that at any given time of the year, about 40.000 students live in Coimbra. And this ratio has been fairly considerable throughout the recent decades. Along with the University and all its several faculties, departments and campuses, which are spread across the whole city, there is another institution of equal (or even greater) importance – the AAC – Associação Académica de Coimbra (Coimbra Students Union).

Founded in 1887, it is one of the oldest in Europe and the continuous guardian of the Coimbra Student Tradition. A set of values and ethos (some unspoken) that guide the life of the students of Coimbra which make the Coimbra Student life so attractive. Students from across Portugal, Portuguese ex-colonies (Brazil, Mozambique,…) and even other European countries flock every September to Coimbra, seeking a wholesome and worthy experience as students, rather than an insipid, but equally prestigious university. The Capa e Batina (black attire), the Pledge, the Fado de Coimbra, the Serenatas, the Republicas,  the late evening’s at Pinto’s, the Assembleias Magnas, the dinners at Zé Manel dos Ossos, the Queima das Fitas are just a few examples of the ethos of the life of the Students of Coimbra and what I ultimately seek to showcase with this photo essay.

This subject is very close to my heart, as I mentioned before I lived the Coimbra Student life to its fullest. As a freshman in the year 2000, I got to learn all about the pledge, take part in tertulias,  faculty dinners and parties, dress the Capa e Batina for the first time and experience the madness of the Queima das Fitas. The first year as freshman of Coimbra is always the most important, and its impression in my persona was so overwhelming that it would eventually determine my undivided dedication to the AAC and the everything that it represents. On the following 3 years, I became an elected member of the DG- AAC (the ruling body of the AAC), working in the student’s welfare, sports, and academic festivities departments. Besides all the memorable moments and accomplishments, it was the friendships I made during my 7 years as a student of the University of Coimbra that made it all worthwhile. Friendships that I, and everyone who studies in Coimbra keeps for life.

Life of the Students of Coimbra

At the University of Coimbra

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The Tunas


The walks through the old town


The Romance


The Dinners at Zé Manel dos Ossos


The Serenatas


The late night music sessions at Pinto’s


The Repúblicas


The looking cool




This Life of Students of Coimbra Post is a part of my ongoing partnership with the Center of Portugal Tourism Board. Photography by my inspiring friend Emanuele Siracusa. All opinions are my own.


Nelson Carvalheiro

I am just a guy with a camera, trying to make sense of it all...

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I am an award-winning filmmaker and content creator that loves to create meaningful and inspiring films uniquely tailored for each client and their story. I am based in Lisbon and travel to destinations worldwide.
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