This next post will be an outfit one, but a little bit different, so please, bear with me. When I posted my uni outfit back in 2009 people were a bit confused about it, and I even got sent a few e-mails with questions. This post will be written regarding that outfit, and all the Portuguese traditions that concern it (also, it's REALLY long).
Tive a semana passada a minha última Queima das Fitas como estudante universitária. Como sou Coimbrinha, e até já tenho saudades da minha capa completamente negra (e rasgada), foi uma grande marca na minha vida, e como não fazia sentido por aqui fotos da bênção das fitas e do desfile académico sem explicar o que é às leitoras estrangeiras, vou fazer um breve apanhado do que é a praxe na minha faculdade, o traje e todas as tradições que andam à volta desse assunto. Como a maioria de vocês que estão a ler isto na língua de Camões sabem o que tudo isso é, este vai ser um post (enorme e) exclusivamente em inglês.
I'm from a town called Coimbra, in the centre of Portugal, especially famous for its university. Since I was a little girl I have closely witnessed all these "rituals" and loved them, that's why I was disappointed when my first freshman year was spent in Barcelona, where there is absolutely no academic life outside lessons.
Then I moved to Viseu, where I currently live, and on the first day of uni I was immediately hazed along with my colleagues. The older students, dressed in black with the scary cape, screamed at me, filled my hair and clothes with rotten eggs, flour, ketchup and anything else they had in hand. During the first term, you choose your "Godparent", an older student from your course that will help you with lessons, hazing (called Praxe) and takes you out for drinks (if you want to).
(All the freshmen from my year and "godparents". 50 points if you find me. Hint: I was a blonde back then and I'm next to my godmother)
Praxe lasts until half of the second term, when you can wear the uni outfit (called "traje", literally "suit") as a reward, and your "godparent" will put the cloak aroud you. During that week, there is a student festival, called Queima das Fitas, where are no lessons and there's a whole lot of concerts and stuff (at my home town, people drink more beer than at Oktoberfest!)
The next year, it's your turn to haze the freshmen, and revenge is oh so sweet. From now on, you're allowed a "godson" per year, except of you're a senior, then you can have 3.
(yeah, that's me gulping wine in bright daylight. That's uni for you.)
When you're 2 years from finishing your course (in my case, on the 4th year), there is a special day for you during the Queima das Fitas: you get to build a float, decorate it with paper flowers and ride it on a parade. Every course has its colour and each float has to have a theme and the colours matching the course. My course's colour is yellow, and on my fourth year our float's theme was lack of jobs in the country and consequent emigration (hence the tooth in the airplane):
( oh yes, our float had a smoke confetti machine. It was pretty sweet)
(after the parade, covered in wine and beer to the bone, and float half destroyed)
The most emotional and (in my opinion) important year, is the last. On this year, during the Queima das fitas, you take away your cape and tie, and replace them with a bowtie and a fabric flower, along with a tophat and a cane, all matching your courses colour. On that year, you're allowed to wear the outfit at the parade and walk in front of the float. Ow, and you get to make a little dance in front of a group of judges (ow, yes! the whole parade is a contest for the best float and dance!) (OW! And you get to destroy the float in the end. Neat, huh?)
(I'm ALWAYS wearing my green glasses. they're awesome.) (yes, I even wear them while driving) (because lying on the floor seemed like a good idea at the time)
(actual dance starts at 1:07. If you want to laugh a bit, skip to 2:23 and see me make a fool of myself and (intentionally) falling down at the end. I'm on the right with the green glasses)
Also, when you're a senior, you ask your family and close friends to write you on ribbons, a few words on what you mean to people or just good luck wishes (I got a lot of Batmen and "keep being original"s). During the first day of Queima das Fitas (which literally means "burning of the ribbons"), your ribbons (again, colour matches your course) are blessed by a bishop, wishing you good luck and congratulations for graduating. At my hometown, your ribbons are actually burnt, hence the festival name.
(50 more points if you actually find me. hint: I'm looking straight at the camera with my workmate.)
(hey, that's my hand)
This may all seem really silly, and I probably haven't expressed myself in the best way, but to me this is something really special and going through the photos really made my eyes water. I've met some really special people during uni, starting with my "godmother"...
... my "godsons" (not even ONE girl asked me to be their godmother ;_;)...
... and a few friends I'll never forget.
Graduation is a big deal for everyone, but since mine has so many things about it, I decided to share with you guys. And I always like to know things about other cultures, so hopefully you do too. If not, sorry if I bored you!