Although I started my Auckland 360 application almost a year ago, it never felt like an actual thing until I finally stepped foot into my new home of Granada, Spain after a 30-hour flight to London and a contiki around Europe. It’s been a whirlwind to say the least (an incredible one), but I’m gonna start off my 360 blogs with just a few thoughts and feelings so far!
On preparing to go:
Preparing for exchange comes with all sorts of admin and paperwork (which I’ll talk more about in later blogs), but I wanted to focus on the mother of all my pre-exchange stress: my visa. Research EVERYTHING there is to know about the visa you need. And do not, I repeat, DO NOT plan your travel until this is sorted. Luckily, my pre-booked travel plans worked out, but this came with a mountain of stress that I could have avoided if I’d been a bit more patient and organized. It doesn’t have to be that hard – learn from my mistakes! The same goes for all your paperwork. Sounds lame, but its gotta be done (and it is aaaaall worth it in the end, trust me).
On life in Granada: Highlights
Tapas. Granada is the promised land of tapas. Head to almost any bar, order a drink (1.50 – 2.50 euros) and you’ll get a complimentary side dish of chicken wings, calamari, hamburgers or a whole range of other stuff. 2 drinks + tapas and you’re sorted!
Cheap travel. I’ve had a day trip and full tour of the beautiful city of Córdoba for about $30 and enjoyed a whole weekend away in Sevilla for less than $100 all included. Lets not forget my $50 flight to Oxford – Europe really is a budget traveler’s paradise.
Lookouts. Granada is blessed with probably the most beautiful lookouts I’ve ever seen. Walk in any direction and you’ll end up watching the sunset over the buzzing city life, the peaceful Arabic-inspired Albaicín and the mountains of Sierra Nevada.
Mi gente (my peeps). The endless amount of Erasmus activities offered have introduced me to a whole new world of wonderfully diverse people from all walks of life. Whether it’s out for tapas, dressing up for a carnival or escaping the city for a weekend, I now have a big multicultural family to share all these new experiences with, which has gotta be the biggest highlight so far.
Spanish. Ahhh, español. You are a beautiful language, but boy have you tested me. The people of Granada have a very distinct (yet beautiful) accent which threw me right off – that mixed with my friends from all over Latin America and my brain has had quite the intense workout. That being said, I couldn’t be happier. I am learning at lightning speed and already feeling way more comfortable – sink or swim, right?
Uni. I’m honoured to be able to study in a university rich with over 500 years of history, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t tough adjusting to how it all works e.g. more weight on exams, and of course, everything being in Spanish. My advice would be to stick it out as things WILL fall into place (they slowly are for me, I promise!) and communicate with your lecturers so that they can help you out, or at least be aware that you may be struggling!
There’s a million other things I could tell ya’ll about – like adjusting to eating dinner at 10pm, joining a salsa class or Spanish flat hunting – but I’ll save those for future blogs. To round up, I’m absolutely loving life here in Granada and I just know I’m going to learn and experience so much that I’ll be able to pass on to ya’ll. Thanks so much for reading, catch me next month for another update! ¡Hasta luego!
I would also like to share my most heartfelt condolences for those affected in the horrific tragedy in Christchurch on March 15th, especially to our Muslim whānau and community. My love and thoughts are with you all. Kia kaha.