Last month before the holidays, we were invited to a party at one of Coimbra University's Repúblicas, Real República Rapó-Táxo. For an American, it is easy to equate Portugal's Repúblicas with fraternities or sororities, but this wouldn't really be accurate. While they are both houses containing social groups comprised of university students, the República has a sense of all-inclusiveness that the aforementioned American groups seem to lack. The sense of community inside a República - from the decades of art on the walls to the genuine kindness shown to both housemates and guests alike - feels less like an elite clique and more like a family.
In addition, many Repúblicas are comprised of both men and women. All views and beliefs are accepted in these houses and students learn how to get along with and respect all different types of people. Former members from generations past still communicate and get together with current members, sometimes to help both local and global communities and sometimes just to party.
Rapó-Táxo loosely translates to mean "the scrapings of the communal pot" and refers to the República's open door policy. They say they will let anyone in who needs a meal or a place to stay for the night - there is always a little left in their "pot" to scrape together another meal for an unexpected guest. When we first moved to Coimbra we knew almost no one, and they invited us in for dinner, helped us translate stuff, told us where to find what we needed, and took us to see some amazing local things. While I've known the members of Rapó-Táxo, I've seen them host many people from different countries all across the world. It's been really eye opening and enlightening to experience such kindness and to hear the stories and views of people from countries I honestly know so little about.
We were told that this party was happening on the last night before everyone was leaving to go back home for the holidays. There were a lot of people there who, despite the cold, had come to see their friends one last time that year and listen to the music. There were three bands and three DJs playing that night, but I have to admit I didn't last that long. The people here - both young and old - have this amazing ability to stay up partying til all hours of the night and the next day. I kind of lost that skill back in my 20s, but I did get some photos of one of the bands below.
One of the things that amazes me about Portuguese university students is how moderate they are in their consumption of alcohol compared to similar Americans. No one was puking in the bathroom, fighting, or crying about some guy like I saw at so many college parties.
This was one of those awesome nights when you don't want to leave, but you know if don't you'll pay for it the next day. We headed home around 2:30 and fell fast asleep while everyone kept partying til the sun came up.