Our adventure from Poitiers to Coimbra was unforgettable. Using environmentally friendly means of transport, we had the opportunity to discover the universities of the Alliance and meet EC2U Students!

Passionate about languages and cultures, with a shared goal of travelling eco-responsibly, we, a group of six students from the university of Poitiers, applied to the call ‘Défi Coimbra’ at the municipality of Poitiers. ‘Défi Coimbra’ gave us the opportunity (and the challenge) to travel sustainably to Coimbra, in Portugal, a town that is twinned with Poitiers. With enthusiasm and the help of the EC2U Alliance and the Maison des étudiants of Poitiers (Student Hall), we set off for our multi-cultural, eco-responsible trip to Coimbra, through the town of Salamanca in Spain. We choose alternative ways of travelling, the goal: to travel far by polluting less.

Our trip started on the 17th of May 2022, from Poitiers to Salamanca by bus. Though the journey was long, we admired the landscape and ambiance in the bus full of people from all origins. When we arrived, we visited the town by foot. Our objective was not only to travel with environmentally-respectful means of transport; we also wanted to discover the universities of Salamanca and Coimbra. As students from the Faculty of Languages at the university of Poitiers, we believed this trip to be the opportunity to find out more about the universities of Europe. Thanks to EC2U, we were touch with students from the two universities who welcomed us warmly.

In Salamanca, we had beautiful encounters with Lucía, Yina, Isabel, Cristina, and Marina showed us around the town, a town which will stay in our hearts forever by its beauty and the charm of the people we met there. We visited the university, the churches, the gardens, the street art that covered the town and tasted many local dishes. Salamanca is a town full of history, of great beauty where people have a taste for life. Our stay was short but gave us an insight into Spanish culture – which we very much enjoyed.

The second stop of our trip was Coimbra! We arrived during the festival “Quemas das fitas”, which loosely translated means “the burning of ribbons”. This is a student festival to meant to celebrate the end of studies for graduating students. The Students named ‘finalistas’ paraded around the town with ribbons from their faculty, and wagons decorated with the colours and emblems that students created throughout the schoolyear. The first evening, we went out with students to the cançaõa square, where, every evening, concerts from Portuguese-speaking countries set the tone for great parties. We listened to local groups like Tuna (a university band), to fado (traditional portuguese music), and to singers like Gerilson Insrael, Deejay Telio, Branko, MC Pedrinho.

We also discovered the beautiful and historically rich town of Coimbra, thanks to Francisco, the president of the Erasmus Student Network of Coimbra. From a visit of the old university to a dinner in a small, atypical restaurant covered with kind words from customers, we can honestly say that Coimbra is full of surprises and has a joie de vivre like no other town we have been to. It is also here that we were warmly welcomed by the maire of Coimbra, Manuel Machado, and his team, enthusiastic at strengthening the relationship between Poitiers and Coimbra. We understood how important environmentally-friendly practices are to the town of Coimbra, and how their team provides solutions to the inhabitants of this town, with projects such as the construction of a tramway or a “clean your town” competition.

A few days in the Iberic peninsula showed us its multi-cultural and diverse history. We met with many people, wandered the streets of these old towns, and discovered the ecological practices in place outside of France. Our group of six students from the university of Poitiers, would never have been able to experience such a wonderful trip without the help of Poitiers and the EC2U Alliance, with whom we created long-lasting bonds with students of the EC2U Campus.