My first impressions of Granada city were better than I expected. With an abundance of tapas bars and clubs I was excited to immerse myself in the local scene. However, my first week in the city was very eventful. After arriving in the flat that we were renting, myself and my friend soon found that it wasn’t for us. We were in no way looking for luxury however we did not feel comfortable in the flat or in the area the flat was located. So after a few days of talking we finally decided to search for another flat on the day of my 20th birthday. We started emailing agencies from 9:00am however no one had responded by midday so went to one of the estate agents we had been contacting. Even though the language barrier was hard at first we managed to get a flat! I think it was a birthday miracle. Two of the main things I learned in my first week were that Spanish people are very helpful and friendly – One of the estate agents actually walked us to the nearby bank to show us where to pay our rent – and that finding a flat in Granada is very easy. If you are planning to stay in Granada I would definitely recommend doing your homework of the property market before you arrive as there is obviously a lot of competition from the arriving stampede of Erasmus students. However, there are loads of advertisements stuck to every lamp post and you can follow the “Pisos en Granada” facebook page where several post are uploaded every day. So week one was exhausting, because it’s hard to move flat and celebrate your birthday all in the same day.
As we settled into our new flat things were looking up however wifi was not included in our rent. The estate agents kindly arranged a day for someone from their recommended wifi company to set it up. The day came and we were incredibly excited that we were finally going to get wifi and be able to Skype our families. Unfortunately our good moods wear crushed as we came to the realisation that we needed a NIE card and a Spanish bank account to get wifi. So the following morning we grudgingly got up at a stupid O’ clock in the morning and waited outside the Extranjeria (equivalent to the foreign office) for forty-five minutes… to then be told that they are no longer letting anymore people in on this day. The next day was another early rise to be at the bank for 8:00am, only to find out that it wasn’t possible to open one today because they were too busy and that we should come back on later in the week. Usually to open a bank account you need a NIE card, however there is a bank in the Facultad de Ciencias that allows you to open one with your passport. The following day we went back to the Extranjeria for 7:45am and waited for an hour and fifteen minutes for the building to open due to the long queues and a limit of sixty people allowed in. You will be happy to hear WE MADE IT IN! And it was actually a very smooth process. I would recommend taking two copies of your passport, a copy of your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and a copy of your credentials – which you will receive at your induction lecture for your faculty – as the process will be much quicker. You also have to fill in a form when you get there. If you are a European Erasmus student then the file should be titled EX-18 and can be found at the entrance. Once you have handed in your information you go to the nearest bank and pay for the card (10.60 euros) and head back to the faculty where you receive you “card”; it’s a flimsy piece of paper with one laminated side. I eventually managed to open a bank account as well so I felt more positive as I was making progress. We called the wifi company to inform them we had all the required documents and gave our information to them. They said that the technician would call us to arrange a date to install it but we have yet to hear from him. After three weeks without wifi it is inevitable I will overindulge on Netflix when it finally arrives. So the lesson I learned in the second week was to never expect anything to be done quickly or on time in Spain. You just have to go with the flow.
But enough about boring documentation. I want to share my social experience as well. There are many trips around Spain that are organised by various companies such as the Erasmus Student Network. You can go to their office* and purchase a student discount card for 5 euros which gives you discount on the trips and in various other places around the city. I booked a trip to Marbella with this company and had a great day on the beach making friends and playing volleyball, tug-of-war, drinking and avoiding the freezing cold sea at all costs. However, they also offer trips to Portugal and Morocco as well which I plan to attend. Not only was it a really fun day out, it was a great way to make friends and see a different city of Spain.
During the first week of university there is nearly an Erasmus party every night at different clubs around the city. One of these nights was held in Granero, located just off Plaza Isabel la Catolica. It was packed with students which made it very reminiscent of our beloved Viper. Another night was held at the beautifully located El Camborio, situated in the Albacin with an insane view of the Alhambra. A mixture of students and locals meant it was great to meet a variety of people from all over the world and practice your Spanish, even though there is a lot of lip reading required because I can’t even understand English speaking people in a club. The Erasmus Student Network facebook page regularly post about forthcoming events so you can plan the best nights out.
I would mention to look out for events that are not Erasmus related as me and a few others went to a Holi festival outside Malaga. The Holi festival originates from India and consists of throwing coloured powder on one another. Traditionally if you are hit by colour you are said to be blessed. It was great to practice our language as the majority of people were Spanish and we had LOTS of fun as there was music, unlimited free beer and tinto de verano included in your ticket price (23 euros). The ticket also included your bus journey there and back, one free spirit and one free portion of food. I ended up having a great day because let’s be honest a cheap day is a happy day.
University has started however I haven’t been able to enrol in any of my classes yet because you have to make an appointment to enrol and the next available time slot wasn’t until the middle of October. This creates some problems because classes fill up quick and Spanish students get first dibs on their preferred classes. Also, because I didn’t know what would still be available and what I would be allowed to take I had to attend every class I was interested in taking so that I could keep on top of the work in case this was in fact a class that was available to me. The first week of university was extremely tiring as the classes are two hours long and my brain was on overdrive trying to understand the Spanish.
However there is a class I know I can definitely take, Curso Intensivo Lengua Espanola, which teaches Spanish Language. Unfortunately, you have to pay for this course as it is not offered as a standard university course but does count towards 6 ECTs. You have to take a test to gage what level you are at so you can be allocated a class that caters for your level. If you receive a grade B1 or below you have to pay 158 euros and if you receive a grade B2 and upwards the charge is 378 euros, which can be paid in two instalments. It is very expensive,however I decided to go for it as I want to make the most of learning the language while I am here and it will be better for my degree over all.
So my first couple of weeks have been very busy and eventful and sometimes not the easiest however I have greatly enjoyed them and feel confident that they are only going to get better. And I ask you kindly to cross your fingers that we get our wifi soon!