Alcala de Henares by M. Peinado
Hamish spent his year abroad in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. Read on as he fills the year abroad blanks...My name is: Hamish
I'm studying: Spanish and Mathematics at Exeter University
For my year abroad I went to: Alcalá de Henares in Spain for nine months.
While I was there I: studied Spanish philology, including translation, linguistics, creative writing, history of reading and history of cinema.
Five words to describe my year away are: heartbreaking, inspiring, ridiculous, fattening, tiring.
My top tips for anyone going there are: You will have to construct your own timetable, which can be stressful. But you get a week to try out courses to see which ones you like, which is nice. And people will stare at you (especially if you shave one side of your head) but it's nothing personal (I'm assured), they stare at everyone. Also, try not to get too sucked into the routine of going to the same nights out every week. It's taken me 6 months to realise this, and Madrid, which is 30 minutes away on the train, has so much to offer, not only for nights out, but just for wandering about and seeing what's there.
The cleverest people find accommodation: From the list given out by the Erasmus office.
Don't leave without: Sunglasses and plenty of books, as there are plenty of lovely spots to sit and read in the sun (especially appropriate with it being Cervantes' birthplace).
The best night out is: Thursdays usually lead to Gabanna, Maná Maná then Cancan until 6AM. But there are great nights out in Madrid too. My personal preference, however, is a bottle of gin in the park with a close friend.
When your parents visit: Show them Madrid! Alcalá, as lovely as it is, is quite limited in what it can offer for 'tourism'. But the university buildings are lovely.
My favourite lunch place: La Española. €2.50 for tapas and a drink. And the tapas are huge.
My best place for a hot date: Ideally your own flat. Especially if you have a balcony to sit on. Arab, the shisha bar, would probably be good though, as it's got low lights, nice tea and big cushions to sit on the floor.
On a Sunday: Go to Parque Retiro in Madrid and have a Gin by the lake, then have a walk at sunset. Or, in Alcalá, go to Parque O'Donnell with some friends, some sangría and a guitar.
The most useful website I found was: UAH's site (list of all the modules. Indispensable for timetable writing).
If you want to fit in quickly, you should: Try not to annoy neighbours with late night noise and maybe save any slightly more weird fashion for when you're a little more settled in, so the staring doesn't get you down...