Ask any language graduate about the pinnacle of their degree, and the answer will undoubtedly be the infamous Year Abroad. I still pinch myself every day over the fact that my own Year Abroad has indeed begun, that I can say I now study at the Universidad de Granada.
The experience has been so far so good, one that I have enjoyed and aimed to take in my stride. Normally, I am an extensive planner, planning my life down to the most ridiculously intricate detail, however, it is impossible to live that sort of existence during an upheaval. Studying abroad teaches more than academic subjects; I have learnt to go-with-the-flow which has been necessary to deal with the profuse paperwork we Erasmus students must complete during the first few weeks of mobility. Granada University hosts the most Erasmus students in Europe, hence patience is a virtue whilst queuing to acquire la matrícula (enrolment), certificate of arrival and student card. The joy of waiting in the various queues is chatting in Spanish with other students in the same boat, be they from Brazil, Germany, France or Slovenia.
The faculty I attend, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras is one of the largest in the University, and is at the top of a somewhat steep hill (understatement – it’s almost vertical!) which is certainly enough to wake you up in time for the sprightly 8:30am lessons. Before starting, I did a recce to familiarise myself with the university. I jogged up that hill, not realising the obliqueness of the incline, but on reaching the top, it was indisputably more than worth it; the views are ineffably spectacular and I will never tire of looking out over Granada. Imagine attending a University which makes you feel on top of the world, physically and metaphorically.
ESN deserves a mention. It stands for Erasmus Student Network and operates across European universities, organising events for Erasmus students during their mobility at universities abroad, in fact, their motto is Students Helping Students. Here in Granada, it is possible to buy an ESN Granada card for just 10€ which enables you to participate in ESN events with other like-minded students. ESN is there to help with the transition that is moving to live abroad. They can help you with matters from finding accommodation to opening a bank account from choosing modules to suggesting the best taperías (tapas bars) and more.
You may have heard horror stories about the chaos of studying at universities abroad, and I cannot deny that I have experienced some minor disorganisation and confusion (this article is being written in the vast, peaceful faculty library as the teacher didn’t turn up to teach the class!). However, this experience is fully intended to be character-building, and embracing such bumps in the road is the only way forwards. I am massively out of my comfort-zone which at one point would have been an unthinkable position to put myself in, however, it is in this very position that I will learn, grow and thrive. And so begins the adventure-of-a-lifetime that is studying at a Spanish university.