Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rifa Arquitectura, around the world in seven months

Architecture and travelling, are not necessarily synonyms, right? Well, in Uruguay they are, sort of. Every year a group of more than 100 students of the Architecture Faculty, of the University of the Republic get to travel around the globe for seven months or so. The best of it, is that this is willingly financed by Uruguayans. You are thinking taxes, or university support, right? Well, not exactly. Actually they organize the biggest fundraiser raffle in the country.

arquitectura rifaIt’s a Uruguayan tradition, which is more than sixty years old already. I understand the travel has a couple of different flavors, some do the whole thing, others half of it, and some customize some of the destinations, but for those who do the full monty it means travelling throughout all of europe, north of africa, asia, and north america. It’s an awesome trip.

Everybody in Uruguay knows someone who’s either studying architecture, or who has a son, or sister who’s doing it, and it’s like the right thing to do in Uruguay to buy at least one ticket to support the lazy bum to travel the world, meet interesting people, learn and maybe some day… design houses?

arquitectura rifaSince this has been going on for years, they have perfectioned a strong marketing muscle, and they are sponsored by big companies, and mainstream media. They have the ability to put on some of the funniest commercials in uruguayan tv. The best of them all imho was the one that involved a drag queen, who had lost the prize for not playing the usual number on a particular year, being this so unlikely he’d made a promise he’d have his parts removed on the event of the number being a winner, well, the ticket number turned out to be a winner, and ... yeah he fulfilled his promise (I como soy un hombre de palabra…).

Tickets can be paid in affordable ten bucks installments, for a period of one year, and the prizes are really, really good. Like houses, apartments, cars, laptops, trips, etc. There are 10 sorting events (is that the term?) along the year, all of them with a very attractive pool of prizes.

In theory those who travel are graduate students, in practice they travel before finishing studies, usually a couple of years before, and since the career takes so long (7 in theory, 11 average) ages of those travelling vary (thanks ana for the correction). They are allowed to take someone as travel partners. When they are abroad they flock in smaller groups to do parts of the trip. These groups sometimes buy vans in Europe to road trip, and after they are done they sell them.

Some of the Uruguayan architecture travellers take the trip with a, let’s say, academic attitude, they get up early, visit museums, go to conferences, and try to see and learn as much as they can. On the other hand, there’s always the nonstop partying crowd, who focus on learning the different cultures at nighttime.

This week you may see them in Plaza Cagancha, “demonstrating”, and trying to sell raffle tickets. You just can’t say no to those faces, can you?

arquitectura rifa


La Gaucha Guapa said...

Wow...what a great reason to study arquitectura! Great post, gabo...I continue to enjoy learning new things about Uruguay!

Anonymous said...

Hey! Nice topic! I'm an architecture student and I'm selling rifas too. Just so you know, it's not on the Fourth year we travel (not even in theory). The Fourth year we start selling rifas...but here's the thing: it's 3 years of selling Rifas! So technically, we should travel once finished our career. Now, in practice, we travel around 2 years before finishing the career (because the career takes sooo long), and after 7 years (!!!) of studying. Creepy :P

BTW, would you like a rifa? Anyone? hehe

gabouy said...


la gaucha guapa, congratulations on the press coverage, and keep up the good work with amargo y dulce

ana, the thing with the year has always puzzled me, I've a friend who was in the fourth year when he made the trip, and now we're buying rifas to a friend who is leaving next month and like..owes second year subjects, and it's been in architecture since forever. But I'll fix it, thanks for the observation.

Anonymous said...

I have to think that these students must come to Chicago at some point during their travels. I'll have to keep my eyes open.....I hope I run into some!

Anonymous said...

really? you mean he was in "4º año", or that it was the 4th year since he started studying? it really is complicated. LOL
About your friend who owes 2nd year subjects, and is still about to travel...yeah it might be possible because the rules change every now and then.

Keep up the good work ;)

jwanma said...

Uruguay is the best country. Small and peaceful.

Anonymous said...

Great story, and good idea too!
"Sorting events"? - do you mean "draws" - when they take out a winning ticket? Just because I know you are keen on idiomatic English.

Great blog still,


Anonymous said...

Let me add something. Also students from the University of Accounting, Administration and Economics (which is one and public) do the trip around the world. It is the same idea, is also very old (more than 50 yr), and they also have a lot of fun.
More than 300 students, traveling together. The exotic part of the trip you do it as a group, then the Europe part you go in small groups of 3 or 4 people.
I did it and was the best thing ever!

twine3 said...

Hey ana, how much are the rifas?

Anonymous said...

twine3! I JUST saw what you I a year late?? Ouch...I wish I'd seen your post sooner. My apologies.
Anyway, I'm still selling them if you're interested! This is my 3rd year selling rifas, the last one (thank god) and hopefully I'll be travelling next year.
The rifas aren't "cheap", but very affordable. If interested, you can email me at
Thanks for asking!

Jehangir said...

Great blog. I've been reading it all day while planning my trip to Uruguay next month.

Keep blogging, we're still reading!


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