Charlotte is studying French and Hispanic studies at uni and is spending the second six months of her year abroad as an Erasmus student at the Universidad de Córdoba in Spain. Here she tells us about - and shows us! - a typical week in her Spanish life...
So, I am here to tell you about my life as an Erasmus student through the medium of a quick whizz through my week. I’m going to start by stating that obviously, not all Erasmus students are the same. My week will not be completely representative of what we all do but I’m sure there must be some people out there who look forward to a slightly more relaxed non-party-party filled Erasmus schedule like mine. I only do four classes, but with 3 sessions (4 hours in total) for each class I do have quite a bit of work to get through.
So, Monday morning rolls around again. I made a very good choice with my timetable today. First class is ‘Current Linguistics Theories’ at 11. Granted it is two and a half hours'-worth of Linguistics but a Monday morning lie-in is not to be taken for granted. It’s also very useful if you’ve been away for the weekend and want to travel back early on Monday morning! This turned out to be a SUPER good Monday as I left my house to stroll the two minutes to my faculty through the old town, I bumped into my friend coming the other way who gleefully tells me the teacher is ill and the class is cancelled. So I end up with a full free Monday on my hands. Blissful. So what do we do first…get a proper Spanish breakfast, obviously. We head to the faithful café across the road from my flat, bathed in sun and surrounded my palm trees (the novelty never gets old). We opt for a tostada (massive piece of toasted bread, always served with some olive oil which can also be eaten with tomato or jamón etc) and a café con leche (Rule 1: It’s always milky coffee for the morning, black coffee for the afternoon!) After this, I head home to meet up with my housemate and we all decide to do a bit shop together, so we head to our beloved supermarket Mercadona and stock up on all the basics. Next I return home to do some reading for uni and grab some lunch. Next it’s a trip to the park with a friend to do some more reading for uni, this time relaxing in the glorious sun….again. Later on in the evening, we all head out to a language class provided for free by the university for foreign students during the first two weeks of term. Sometimes it’s a bit basic as there’s such a big mix of people in the class but still useful nonetheless.
So normally, Tuesday contains a jam-packed morning of classes which is a bit grim, but it’s not so bad as I do always have afternoons off. I have a History of Art class at 8.30am (so grim, I know). Next is an anthropology class. Then it’s a quick foray into the Hispanic Literature of 20th and 21st Centuries before heading back into anthropology for a seminar. Five straight hours of classes is a bit much but there is time to nip for a coffee normally, and the promise of a proper Spanish lunch at my local restaurant and a relaxing afternoon afterwards makes it a bit easier to get through. I’m going to include a quick note on lunch/dinner here. You basically need to push everything back about 2 hours in Spain; lunchtime doesn’t normally start until about half past 2 and dinner is at about 8 at the very earliest but normally around 10.
Wednesday morning starts with me heading to the university for a class and then to the secretary to try and get hold of my learning agreement. After my experience of constant bureaucratic wild goose chases in France and many hours of queuing and waiting for places to open hours after they say they will here in Spain, I’m fairly surprised when I get to head right into the office and pick up the document straight away. Happily this left me and my friend with about an hour and a half of free time before our next class (Yes, I was fully expecting to have to wait a while to get hold of my LA! Always have a book with you; learning to wait here in Spain is a key skill. As is learning to tolerate the word…"mañana"…"tomorrow" everything happens "tomorrow" here…"come back tomorrow", "try tomorrow"…you get the picture!). After one more class I head home for lunch and return home to find a parcel from my Mum full of Percy Pigs…could there be a better thing to receive?! Next up is a trip to the hair dressers for my German & Argentinian housemates and me, accompanied by our very kind and very cool landlady who decides to come with us to avoid any massive hair cock ups. I don’t come out looking like a skunk so am very happy with the results. We then head out for tapas for tea to celebrate our new shiny locks. Anything on the menu free with a drink! Can’t get much better than that.
On Thursdays I have to get up at about 8 to get to my Literature class for 9. I’m always a bit reluctant to get up as I know I have 5 straight hours of classes. A literature seminar and lecture, and then a History of Art lecture and seminar. It’s always a bit of a slog getting through these but thanks to an often slightly tardy teacher, I normally have time to nip for my usual ‘café con leche’. This week, my class turns out ending an hour earlier than normal so we’re all happy. Sometimes my History of Art class is a good break as the teacher is really big on going on visits to see works of art in Córdoba. Once we ended up on an underground tour of the ruins under the Mezquita (a trip money can’t buy!) After my classroom slog I head back to the supermarket to pick up some bits and bobs for a picnic lunch for me and my friend. Fresh bread, fruit, veg and cheese always at super cheap prices! We then head home to chill out for a little bit before heading to the gym where we do a step-aerobics class. It’s always hilarious; the Spanish ladies are lovely to us and the trainer is a little bit fearsome but loves us really - especially when we embarrassingly misunderstand her fraught instructions.
Friday is a free day which leaves me with some time to relax and catch up on the huge amount of reading I have for my literature class. I alternate chilling out on the sofa with dog and chilling out in the sun in the park. It’s a hard life.
Saturday daytime involves a lot of hanging out with my housemate during the day and mooching around Córdoba doing normal Saturday-type things. The evening however is taken up by pre-drinks at a friend’s house with pretty much at least one person from each corner of the earth! I love how diverse ERASMUS makes life! Then we head to the Irish pub to celebrate the one and only St Patricks Day. I managed to nab a free hat off someone while dancing on a bench so I end my night feeling rather satisfied. I head home at a relatively early 3.30am and go to bed. Next tip, going out has a very different timetable here in Spain. Pre-drinks normally won’t start until about 11 or 12, and some have been known to go on until about three, so you can imagine how late you end up in the clubs. If you get home before 5, you’re not doing it right. I’m slowly getting used to this way of doing things but I hate how much of the next day you waste recovering!
My friend and I actually surprise ourselves with our recovery time after the previous night’s festivities and we meet up at about 2pm to try and find some churros to fulfil a craving we’ve had all week. This quest actually turned out to be a lot harder that we thought it would be and we did end up walking pretty much over all of Córdoba to find some. It was definitely worth it in the end though and we end up doing a bit of touristy sightseeing on our way. My last quick tip, churros tend to be served in the morning...so don’t follow our lazy, afternoon plan if you’re after some good ones not out just for the tourists! The rest of the day is filled with chilling out in the flat before another lovely lie in on the following Monday morning.
(Many thanks to my housemate Jully and my friend Adele for humouring me with all my picture taking during this week, and letting me include some of them).