The Mole Diaries: Granada
by Fernando Stankuns
Bex studies French and Spanish at Lancaster University and spent her first semester abroad studying at ISTI in Brussels and is now studying in the Erasmus capital: Granada. She writes a blog and tweets now and then @BexNobes. Here she passes on her top tips for survival in Granada: how to get there in the first place, finding somewhere to live, getting around town and an insight into life at the Universidad de Granada.
Finding somewhere to liveThe best recommendation I can make when it comes to finding somewhere to live is to use EasyPiso. I found my flat there and know at least 2 other people who found somewhere to live through this website. Equally though I do know people who chose to stay in a hostel to begin with and then looked for accommodation. There are posters absolutely everywhere advertising rooms for rent and the Erasmus groups that can be found easily on Facebook are full of adverts for rooms.
Don’t worry - finding somewhere to live in Granada is very easy because there are so many students! Granada is the city with the most Erasmus students in the whole of Europe.
A word of advice on where to live: find out which campus the faculty you are going to be studying at is on, it’ll make a difference to where you want to live. Be warned, the rooms available in the Albyzin are lovely, with great views, but they are not for those who are afraid of a steep walk- believe me! Do your research into the areas that you could potentially be living in so you know what you’re letting yourself in for.
Getting around (and actually getting to Granada in the first place!)So, you haven't chosen the easiest Erasmus location to get to, that’s for sure! There are limited airports that actually fly to Granada and funnily enough no flights from the UK head there! This means you have to fly into Malaga airport, but it’s simple enough to get to Granada from there. There are 2 buses a day from the airport at 11.30 and 18.30 and these will take you to Granada bus station in 2.5 hours for €10, stopping at a few towns in the hills en route. If you’re not landing at the right time for either of these buses, then just hop onto the bus into Malaga and there are buses to Granada every hour from the bus station.
When it comes to getting around Granada I chose to walk everywhere I go. Nothing really takes too long and it’s a great way of getting to know the city. If, however, you aren’t that way inclined there are plenty of buses that run throughout the city that seem to be fairly regular. It depends what campus you are studying on, but if like me you’re on the Cartuja campus you’ll find yourself faced with a walk up a rather steep hill every day if you’re determined to get fit and not take the bus!
Universidad de GranadaAs it is such a big university and receives so many Erasmus students each year they seem pretty organised. In the first week you’ll have a general introduction meeting, which is given in Spanish and English, and an introduction given by your faculty. These are worth going to as they will give you the important dates and tell you about any events happening for Erasmus students. This is also your opportunity to give in your online application and photo for your student card.
When it comes to courses the world is your oyster it would seem. You are allowed to pick from any of the courses on offer to normal Granada students, so pick what you’re interested in. The classes are all 2 hours long so you need to pick something you’re going to be able to concentrate on for that length of time.
Five Top Tips1. Speak Spanish at every opportunity you are given.
I have found that in general people are happy to speak to me in Spanish, I’ve not had that many people reply to me in English or insist on practising their English on me yet.
2. Don’t panic about the accent.
Yes, the Andalucian accent will take a bit of getting used to, they cut all their words short and tend to slur their speech but once you’ve got used to it it doesn’t tend to be a problem.
Wherever you go and buy a drink you will always get free tapas, make the most of it and try as many varieties as you can. I’ve gone from ordering Chuppa Chupps de Pollo (Yes, it was literally a chicken lollipop) to having a whole fish put in front of me. In some places you will get to choose your tapas and in others it is the luck of the draw.
4. Get out there and see things.
I’ve only been here for 2 weeks, but because I’ve got out there and had a wander around I feel like I know the place really well already.
5. Enjoy yourself.
Remember this is your year abroad to use how you want to. You can do what you like, how you like and when you like. You don’t have to conform to that lovely Erasmus party hard stereotype if you don’t want to- but equally you can if that's your thing!