Daniel: El Piso Perfecto – Finding the Perfect Place to Live in Granada

One of the most important, and at times daunting, tasks of setting yourself up for exchange is figuring out where you’re gonna lay your head every night. I mentioned accommodation in a previous blog, but I wanted to go a little bit more in detail as to how I found my flat here in Granada and a few different ways you can go about finding your new home – and hopefully this will come in handy for wherever you may be going!

Flatting

When it comes to flat hunting, the internet is your best friend. I used the FB pages “Pisos en Granada”, “Granada Erasmus” and “Granada Flat Sharing”, and the app “Idealista”, which all had constant posts looking for people to flat with. Also make sure to download Whatsapp and join groups of the same name.

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My lovely street, Pedro Antonio, where I ended up! The fact that it has at least 10 different kebab places totally had nothing to do with my choice…

You don’t need to do this months in advance. Granada is so student orientated that you’ll be able to find something the month before you go. Most flats come fully furnished with cutlery etc as well, so no stress about that either. The city is literally waiting for you! (Not to mention Granada is super cheap compared to Auckland – like, half the price).

Careful: There are flats that are run privately and those run by student-targeted agencies – these are usually more expensive! Cheaper flats are not necessarily lower quality – a friend of mine lives in a flat the same size but pays almost half the price (woops). Find out all the info before signing a flat – who is renting it out, what does it offer, the bond etc.

Location wise: It usually seems to be better to be closer to the centre than to the uni. This works in Granada because I only go into uni a few times a week by bus, whereas I’m out pretty much every day for a stroll through town, for tapas, chilling with friends at a bar etc. But once again, it’s totally up to what works for you and your timetable!

And finally, if you’re still not feeling set with what you’ve found, do what I did and book yourself a hostel (I went with the lovely Oasis) and go flat hunting in person when you arrive! This way you also meet some cool and crazy travelers passing through the hostel. Not gonna lie, this felt pretty risky, but I have no regrets. I got to know my flatmates before I moved in, saw the area and felt way more comfortable picking my flat – I would highly recommend researching whether or not this is a viable option for your city BEFORE going.

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My little work station from my room – a friend of mine lives right across, so we can chat without even leaving out rooms

Other options include host families and uni accommodation, both of which I have heard are great experiences, just a little more expensive. Unfortunately, I can’t say much more, but my main recommendation would be to weigh up all your options carefully – you’ll be here for 6 months/a year after all! That being said, the perfect flat doesn’t exist, and the unknown of it is all part of the adventure. So plan as much as you can, but be ready to embrace the parts that scare you too! Happy flat hunting!

Daniel

Daniel: 5 Tips for Feeling at Home in your New Home

Almost 3 months down in Granada and I am super happy to say I’m feeling fully settled and like I’ve found a second home here. But although I’m feeling great, I’ve had my share of down days, and feeling like I’m never going to settle.

I knew this was coming – it’s never gonna be 100% smooth sailing moving to the other side of the world, and that’s ok! So, for those aspiring or current 360er’s who may be feeling this way, here’s what I’ve done in my 3 months that has led me to both survive and thrive in my new Spanish life.

  1. Put yourself out there from day 1
    On my very first night in Granada, I had the choice of staying in my hostel and sleeping or going to a tapas event with a group of total strangers. Boy am I glad I went. This introduced me to people who to this day are some of my closest friends and made the idea of meeting all these strangers a little less daunting. I know this isn’t easy for everyone, but I cannot stress how important it is that you at least make the effort. Join the international student FB groups (for those in Spain, try ESN, Emycet and Bestlife) and keep an eye out for the thousands of events they put on for exchange students. At the end of the day, the people you meet are going to make you feel the most happy, comfortable, and at home – not the place.
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I met these gorgeous people in my first week here thanks to all the student events!
  1. Go hard on the flat hunting
    Obviously you’re not going to find a 4-story mansion, nor can you spend your whole 6 months searching for the perfect flat. But I say this because I’m a big believer in going with whatever feels right, and I personally wasn’t able to get a good feel for the flatting sitch just by looking online. I highly recommend staying in a hostel and going flat hunting in person – at least in Granada, there is always something on the market as students are constantly coming and going. You’ll be able to meet your flatmates, see the place and get a vibe for the city too!
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My wild, hilarious and always entertaining flatmates ❤
  1. Bring little bits of your old home to your new one
    This one is super easy and a great way to get a sense of familiarity on those homesick days. I’m not allowed to stick any photos on my wall, so that method was ruled out. For me, I’ve found that listening to some kiwi music every once and a while actually makes a huge difference – keeping up with Drax Project or Six60, or even a classic banger from Stan Walker gives me a few minutes to picture myself back home with friends and whānau and I’m good to go. Whether it’s a weekly call home or wearing a classic leavers hoodie from time to time, try to have something that’ll help ya remember your roots.
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Yet another feature from Liv, but this time visiting me! One of Granada’s many lookout spots, San Miguel Alto
  1. The exact opposite of no. 3
    I don’t mean to backtrack, but I do want to emphasise that you shouldn’t be recreating an NZ bubble in your new country – keep that for days you’re really missing home. In fact, diving into the social and cultural world of your new country is an even better way to start building a new home that is just as special. I’ve started listening to Spanish music, am visiting the quintessential Granada spots like the Alhambra and constantly challenge myself to find new cafes/bars/other magic spots hiding in the city. The more I get to know the city and force myself to immerse myself in the Spanish lifestyle, the more I feel like I’m fitting in and becoming part of the city.
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One of the many funky café’s I have found to get some work done, definitely becoming a regular
  1. Accept that things are different
    Above all, the ultimate thing you have to do is accept within yourself that every country, or even every city, has their own way of doing things. One of the most valuable lessons this experience can teach you is that there is no right nor wrong way to do certain things – once you’ve accepted this and just go with it, you’ll start to enjoy yourself 100 times more.
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Even the simplest little streets have a little love

So. I’ve slowly (and at times, painfully) adjusted my body to the Spanish food schedule of dinner at 10pm, learnt to avoid afternoon shopping as siesta hours are definitely a thing and I’m even getting used to the wonderful yet challenging Granadino accent. It took a bit of time, but I’m feeling a bit more like a Granadino, and hopefully my experiences help some of you settle in, so you can enjoy your own adventure.

Until next time, ¡hasta luego!

Daniel

Daniel: Starting Life as a Granadino

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!

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A warm, loving welcome from Granada

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!

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Just a few of the many types of tapas you’ll be served in Granada

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.

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Me and Liv enjoying the little snowfall Oxford put on for us

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.

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Breathtaking..how is this my backyard!?

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.

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Challenges

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.

Daniel