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Spain: Student Experience - Granada

LOCAL STAFF IN GRANADA

The Program Assistant in Granada, María Maldonado, reports to the Resident Director in Madrid. She is very friendly and helpful in all respects, although she only works for IP on a part-time basis. She will help familiarize you with the city and the university. She is responsible for handling whatever emergency occurs until the Resident Director can arrive from Madrid. The Granada program assistant does not do academic advising; this is done during the Resident Director's regular visits to Granada, which takes place at the beginning of each semester. However, Maria is very knowledgeable and will assist you in any way she can, as her years of experience contribute to her well rounded knowledge of the University system in Granada.

TRANSPORTATION TO GRANADA AND YOUR FIRST WEEK (Top)

You will travel as a group to Granada after spending a few days in Madrid. Lodging for twelve days at a centrally located hotel in Granada is arranged for you by IP. Fees you prepaid before leaving California cover the cost of these accommodations, including the 3 meals of the day. In addition, the IP staff in Granada will organize a brief orientation meeting for you during which time they will advise you about apartment hunting. Finding your permanent housing in Granada is your responsibility. Many students are nervous that twelve days in a hotel will not be enough time to find a place, but some find housing in as little as three days. Normally, one week is sufficient time to make housing arrangements, but be patient if it takes longer. Don't settle for the first place you see! It is helpful to look at pisos with a friend. Then, you will have another opinion of the piso and you won't feel so intimidated. Those who did not find housing by the deadline were usually able to crash on the couches of other students who had already found housing, while they continued their search.

Shortly after arrival you will be given a tour of Granada. On the tour, you will have a chance to familiarize yourself with the layout of the city, as well as the location of some important places like the American Express office, banks, the post office, and the building for Cursos de Extranjeros, where your classes will be held.

THE PHYSICAL CLIMATE (Top)

Spain's climate is usually described as "Mediterranean" which means that the summers are hot and the winter's cold. The contrast is extreme, with brief transitions into autumn and spring. Snowfall normally rare in Granada, however this year the weather was extremely cold, although excellent skiing conditions are found 20 miles away in the Sierra Nevada. Granada is high in elevation with a dry climate. Generalizations on weather and climate in Granada will not satisfy everyone who has lived there through all the seasons, but it is accurate to say that summer temperatures are high and continue without variation until October, when temperatures may drop substantially and winter sets in for the next five months. Expect low temperatures almost every night, December through February.. Of course, you must remember that a mild winter in Granada is substantially colder than a normal one in much of California. Be prepared for extremely cold weather. Keep winter weather conditions in mind when selecting a piso as well…search for good heating. Pack accordingly.

SOCIAL GRACES (Top)

Patience and courtesy are the magic words for all personal relationships you might have with Spaniards. To gain their respect, observe Spanish manners and speak Spanish on every occasion. Spaniards value politeness, and Spanish manners are characterized by explicit acknowledgment of people-by shaking hands, by kissing on both cheeks, by greeting and saying good-bye to everyone, by standing up when people are ready to leave, and by offering cigarettes to everyone. Non-smokers beware! Try not to be offended if smoke gets blown into your face; it is unintentional and unavoidable. This may seem a bit formal, but you will find that the little niceties between people (even close friends) carry a lot of weight. On the other hand, we firmly believe that one must hold one's ground to avoid subtle manipulation that easily can take place. At times, patience and courtesy will only serve to keep you at the end of the line in telephone offices, banks, markets, etc. That doesn't mean abrupt rudeness, but it does mean that one must (more often than not) be self-asserting to be attended to. We also recognize that "at first" (before the initial adjustment period of a few months) it's difficult to be self-asserting, for one feels uneasy with the language, customs, etc. But after taking a docile, overly polite posture, one will realize the need to change to a more assertive one.

GETTING ACQUAINTED (Top)

It is not too difficult to make acquaintances. Granada is a college town. However, introductions are a must. "Intercambios" (language exchange partnerships) are a good way to meet people and make friends. The Centro de Lenguas Modernas arranges these "intercambios". Spaniards have the custom of going out in groups. Don´t take it personal if they seem a little distant at first, as soon as they get to know you better you´ll become one of them. Breaking the ice may be trying; just be patient. It is a good idea to make a real effort to pay the bill for the coffee now and then, even though Spaniards will almost always insist on paying. When a mixed group goes somewhere-a bar, dancing, or to a cafe, for example-everyone pays his own way. Otherwise, he who invites pays.

Do not despair when arguing or talking with Spaniards, for they like to talk and often prefer to ignore your opinion. Do not be overly critical of Spain, say former students, although the Spaniards may criticize their own country and yours too. A group of Spaniards may criticize their government but are likely to be irritated or offended if foreigners make the same remark. In such instances, it is better to listen, to get a picture of the way students feel about their country and their government. When speaking with non-student Spaniards, be cautious about discussing religion, sex (especially abortion), and politics. If you woulde like to discuss historical issues make sure to do your research and remain neutral unless asked for your opinion. Be prepared for a lot of ethnocentrism, and still a lot of support for Franquismo, especially among the older generation. Also, be prepared for a different sense of personal space. Spaniards stand much closer to one another when talking than Americans do.

CULTURE

Spain truly values their free time. For example, if there is a holiday on a Sunday, for which there are quite a few, Spaniards will move it to Monday in order to get a day off of work.

It is also common for Spaniards to meet up with friends and drink and eat tapas all day long. You may start out in the afternoon at one tapas place and continue on to place after place after place until before you know it, it's four o'clock in the morning and you're dancing in a Discoteca.

DATING (Top)

Spanish dating customs are different. American women have little trouble getting a date with a Spaniard. But it can be difficult for American men to find Spanish dates, however, there are plenty of American and other European ladies studying at the CLM who maybe looking for romance as well. This is not to discourage one from looking for a Spanish chiquita, but it may be more difficult than one would anticipate. The best way to find a Spanish date is to have a Spanish friend introduce you to a Spanish girl and then casually ask to go to tapas, or have some kind of intercambio where you can exchange language lessons. This can also on depend on the city you are in as different cities have different social norms. But careful because being “foreign” can sometimes mean that you are an easy catch. If you need help, it is helpful to have one of your Spanish friends introduce you to the woman you want to ask out. Spaniards mostly go out in groups, so you should try to include her in your group dates. You can break the ice by asking him/her to tapas. If a Spanish woman goes out regularly with a man for more than a month, she probably considers him her “novio”, which may or may not be true with foreigners. Do not plan on going out as a couple at first, but rather as a group of friends. Most of the time, Spaniards socialize with their friends in local neighborhood bars and restaurants. They only entertain their closest friends inside their homes; so don't be offended if your friends don't invite you over. You should also know that when a man is invited to meet a Spanish girl's parents, or vice versa, there is an assumption that the relationship is far more serious than what this would imply in the United States. Be warned, the public display of affection is very common and present almost all around the city so do not be surprised.

NIGHTLIFE (Top)

Many bars are open until 3:00 AM and many provide "tapas" for free with the purchase of a drink. Each bar serves its own specialty, but a local favorite is "La Antigualla". It has two locations on Calle Elvira, adjacent to Plaza Nueva. Other good tapas bars are “Omkalsum” in Plaza de Gracia and “El Poderío”. There are two main locations for bars and clubs in Granada.  Likewise, there are several worthwhile tapas bars close to Plaza Trinidad—Poe and Bar D´Cuadros—that are heavily frequented by students in the program.  The street Pedro Antonio de Alarcón has an active nightlife. The nightclubs and discotheques are open every night of the week, some until 6:30 AM (from 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM in Sacromonte). They're fun, but go with a group, preferably a group of Spaniards. Among these bars, known by the people around town as "the caves", are two favorites: Bar Flamenco and El Camborio. When you go to a nightclub or discoteca, dress, as you like. Black is the "in" color. Wear nice shoes; some won´t let you in with sport shoes. Things start hopping at two or three AM, not early like at home. They play the latest "top 40" hits from all over the world, especially from the U.S. and have good crowds almost every night. If you like heavy metal, not much is offered; but try Bar Sakuda and Trogodero (near to Bar Anisetto). The "in" place in Granada is on the northern end of the street Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. The discotheques frequented by our group included Distrito 10, Marella, Cha Cha Cha, and Vertigo. Entrance costs ranged from 3-6 euros; but women usually don't have to pay. If you like authentic Sevillana music, try El Machaco, El Patio or Señorio, all at the end of Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. After the early morning closure of the bars, if you have a sweet-tooth or need a snack, there is a "torta" store near the north end of Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. They have the best "tortas" and "empanadas" in town. However, this area tends to attract a younger crowd. Calle Elvira and the area surrounding was a favorite for our group. It is lined with many fun bars, and the discotheque Granada 10 attracts a fun crowd.   Also close to Plaza Trinidad, there is a popular disco called Vogue which plays indie/rock on the lower floor and electronica/house on the upper floor.  There is also a venue called Industrial Copera located in one of the pueblos surrounding Granada which hosts concerts and electronic music events.  If you are someone who likes to go to concerts or other events there is a website called ticktackticket which sells tickets for local events all over Spain.  If your looking for something fun to do for a night, just walk up and down the street and you'll find somewhere fun to be.

Women can expect to hear men on the street making remarks about them (piropos). When this happens, you should act as if you didn't hear anything. Just keep walking or else you will probably be followed all over town. Do not get uptight about these remarks. They're usually harmless. It is all part of being a Spanish male! Once your command of Spanish improves, you will acquire knowledge of verbal parries with which to discourage the male's machismo.

ACADEMIC LIFE (Top)

There are two types of classes offered at the University of Granada: Facultad classes (regular university courses taught for local Spaniards) and Cursos de Extranjeros (courses specifically arranged for visiting foreign students). All IP students must take at least one Facultad course, which can be taken during either in the first or the second semester. Usually the Facultad courses follow a different calendar than the Cursos de Extranjeros. Just remember that you have to complete a course to receive credit and a grade. If your level of Spanish is average or below average, you should take your Facultad course during the second semester. However, it should be recommended to take Facultad classes if you are able to in the first semester, because you will be able to return to California sooner, by the end of May when the CLM finishes.  You will find that your money and expenses go faster than they seem, so it could be helpful for saving if you can go home sooner.  Advanced Spanish students still have difficulties because professors speak rapidly and have a different accent from what you're used to hearing. You are able to take a Facultad course at the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. The Facultad courses are in the Facultad de Filosofía Letras on the Cartuja campus on the outskirts of the city. Many students this year found the Facultad courses to be challenging, but rewarding. This is one of the best places to meet Spaniards your age. You will do more preparatory work outside of class for your Facultad classes than for your Cursos de Extranjeros classes. Exams are essay-type. Regular Spanish students memorize their notes and regurgitate them for the exam, so you can expect to be graded according to your ability to duplicate the superficial aspects of a course rather than arrive at your own conclusion. But, beware; depending upon the professor, the exams may include material not covered in class. Special arrangements for exams can be made for foreign students depending on the professor. Most professors grade foreign students separately from the Spanish students.

The Cursos de Extranjeros program is part of the Centro de Lenguas Modernas of the Universidad de Granada and is housed in the Palacio de Santa Cruz on the Placeta del Hospicio Viejo, Granada 18009. It accommodates over 300 foreign students from all over the world. Students love their classes and professors at the Centro de Lenguas Modernas. "Cursos" offers a program of over 20 different classes in fields such as art history, economics, geography, history, literature, and Spanish. A list of courses is available at the "secretaría" or from your IP Program Assistant. The classes are generally taken on a semester basis, although some classes are one year in length. While most university classes here are strictly in lecture form and require a lot of outside work, those in "Cursos" are becoming more and more like classes in the U.S. in that the teachers expect a good deal of class participation. Be prepared to do outside reading. Exams are graded on a 0-10 scale. Nines and tens are seldom given, sixes and sevens are considered good grades.

LIBRARIES (Top)

Most Facultades have a library available. Obtain your library card from the Centro's library. There are libraries at the Hospital Real and at the Facultad de Filosifía y Letras. There is also a small library at the "Cursos" building (Palacio de Santa Cruz). You can only check out one book at a time from the libraries. If this is a problem, we suggest you look up what you need and make photocopies, or ask a Spanish friend if they can check out a book for you.

HOUSING (Top)

You will have eleven days to find permanent housing in Granada. Therefore, it is very important that you start looking as soon as you arrive in Granada. Students who have made an extra effort before they leave to meet and speak to past student participants and who have attended the regional departure orientation program provided by OIP in California are always more prepared to find housing than students who do not contemplate their housing plans before departure.

The IP staff in Granada will provide you with an orientation to the city and assistance in locating housing. They will provide you with information about how to look for housing (neighborhoods to look in, questions to ask landlords, price ranges, etc.). Most IP students decide to rent an apartment with other students (CSU students, Spaniards, or other international students).

Buy a map with a legend the first day. It's a smart buy at €31.80! The best time to look for an apartment is between 2:00 and 5:00 PM and between 8:00 and 10:00 PM. This is lunchtime, a time when you will find most Spaniards at home.

Make sure to speak with the dueño of the piso you are looking at and ask him or her any questions you have about your rights in the piso, a contract, and specifics about what you expect to have from the piso. 

The Spanish economy is developing at a fast pace and therefore many young Spaniards are leaving the nest to live in apartments of their own. This is creating more competition in the housing market in Spain. In addition, past participants have noted that some Spaniards may seem xenophobic and it may appear that they will rent to other Spaniards before renting to foreign students. You may experience feelings of discrimination or intolerance. There is no need to be alarmed, but knowing that this may be the case with some landlords may eliminate some of your frustration. Just keep looking and we're sure you'll find a comfortable place to live. Have confidence. While finding your own apartment in a foreign country may seem like an overwhelming task now, you will soon see that it isn't very difficult at all. Just remember: every year, all of the CSU students find housing that they like and that they can afford. You will too! If for any reason you don't like your living situation, just move. Chances are you can break your contract (if you have one) or find someone to take your room.

Pisos (Apartments)
There are various ways to go about looking for an apartment in Granada. Newspapers and magazines always have ads. Almoneda is the best rental magazine. Bulletin boards at the university or at shops frequented by students also post ads with apartments for rent. In addition, you can always find "room for rent" posters near the entry way to the Centro. Responding to ads on bulletin boards at the university will probably increase your chances of finding an apartment to share with Spanish students.

Another interesting and effective way to find an apartment is to just go exploring on your own. People post rental signs on posts along the streets and on telephone booths. Check out the addresses (if they're included in the ad) and call to see the apartment if you're interested. If you are reading this in California right now this may sound strange, but one of the best ways to find an apartment in Spain is to walk through the neighborhood you are interested in and to ask the porteros and shop owners if they know of any nearby apartments for rent. This way, you get to practice your Spanish as well as get to know some of the people in the neighborhood.

You should be able to find an apartment to share with other Spaniards for €180-300 a month, that includes electricity and water, but as you do your financial planning, remember that you'll need to buy your own food. The ideal situation is to find Spanish roommates, but you must keep in mind the differences that exist between Spaniards and Americans. Ask about such things as smoking, having friends over, differences in schedules for meals and sleeping, noise level, etc., before you move in. Although frustrating, with some dedicated searching, an apartment can be found in less than a week. But this will be very good for your Spanish.

Central heating is relatively recent in Granada, and apartments with it are located in the newer, more elaborate complexes. The added time and trouble of looking for central heating is well worth it. All apartments in Granada have stone floors that are as cold as ice in the winter. The butane heater is not sufficient to warm a house comfortably, and only central heating does the trick. If there is central heating, you should realize that it may only be turned on during certain hours of the day, for example 4:00-10:00 PM. It is not something you can control. You can't turn it on or off, but it still warms up your piso pretty well. Warning: the heating might cause headaches for some. This might be because you're dehydrated. Drink more water if you think the heater affects you.

When examining an apartment, try to act as if you know exactly what you are doing. Examine it closely. Most are not as modern and well constructed as they seem. Never act overly enthusiastic and take your time in deciding on an apartment. You are going to feel rushed and pressured when you first get to Granada, attending classes and trying to find an apartment, but it is better to take your time and find what you want instead of spending your year moving from place to place. There really are a surprising number of apartments for rent in Granada, but it takes some patience to find a good one.

Don't hesitate to bargain with the dueño about the price-it is the custom here. You will find that the rental process is far less cumbersome in Spain than it is in California. It has been our experience that very few owners require leases, but you should ask for a written contract. It's always better to be overly cautious and to protect yourself by asking for a written contract. Also, get a receipt for your deposit or you will lose it. If you decide to move, it is probable that you will lose your deposit. It is a good idea to make a complete inventory of the furnishings stating their functional condition and tell the landlord you will do this during the first month you are living in the apartment. You are liable for everything. Be sure to check that everything is working properly (heating, water, water heater, refrigerator, etc.). Landlords rarely will tell you if something is not working and it will take forever to get it fixed. Don't assume you will be reimbursed for anything that you fix. Bring any discrepancy to your dueño's attention in a courteous manner.

Some apartments are completely furnished, down to sheets and silverware. Ask what's included if they say it's a "furnished" apartment. If you feel that the apartment is lacking some items, be sure to ask the owner for them. If there is no telephone hook-up already in the apartment, don't expect to get one while you're there, no matter what your dueño (Landlord) might promise. The high cost of installation (about $320) and the long waiting period are prohibitive. Most Spaniards use and rely on mobil phones for daily use. It is rare to have a home phone. Most apartments don't have ovens-bring plenty of stovetop recipes.

Settle all agreements about what the landlord will do or what you will do BEFORE moving in, or else you may have to wait a couple of months for the owner to comply. If you are not satisfied with your living situation, feel free to move. You will be much happier in the long run. Some Spaniards will make you feel like you are breaching a huge promise to them if you move (even if you have discussed this with them before deciding on moving in), so be careful in the beginning. Piso hunting after October is extremely difficult, so we suggest you try to find something right away. Most students in our group feel like they rushed it and they wished they had looked at more places before making a final decision about where to live. Even though you only have eleven days, take your time to find something that will make you happy.

Hostales/ Residencias/ Pensiones (Top)

Other housing options in Granada include a hostal/residencia, which provides room and sometimes board ($450-600). In addition, there are some pensiones where most of the residents are Spanish students, and it may be possible for one to get as close to the family that owns and operates the place as one living with a Spanish family ($420-500). Also, some pensiones offer kitchen privileges. Some students who live in them eat their meals out-there are some student restaurants with economical prices in Granada. The comedores for example, cost only €2.25 for a huge meal. Ask students where they are located. There are three.

Living with a Señora
The majority of families who take in student boarders here in Spain consist of a widow, with or without children, or an elderly unmarried woman (both are called señora). The advantages and disadvantages will vary from home to home, so it is very important to ask each señora what restrictions her home has. Normally, each person will have his own house key, and there is no curfew imposed (ask to be sure). Sometimes cleaning and washing clothes are included in the monthly rent. If you are allowed to use the phone at all, it is usually to receive calls.

Although the Señora may not be in favor of this, be sure to receive receipts for the rent you pay each month. Also make sure that you can receive your deposit if you decide to leave or move before June. As ideal as the situation may seem in the beginning, be sure to take precautions in case you decide to move in the future. If you are a vegetarian, make sure the Señora is willing to conform to this custom before agreeing to move in. Living with a Señora/family can be very helpful in learning the Spanish language; new vocabulary is learned daily. It can also be an excellent way of getting to know the customs. But be wary when searching for a place to live; often you'll be told what the Señora thinks you want to hear, and only after moving in will you discover the truth.

Living with a Family (Top))

It is possible to exchange English lessons for room and board, thus saving a great deal on rent and truly living with a Spanish family. Meals are usually included or you may be able to obtain derecho a cocina. A disadvantage lies in the fact that you are obligated to teach English, at least Monday through Friday, at the times requested by the family. Quite often you will be expected to care for the children as part of the rent. This tends to restrict your social life. Curfews might be imposed, depending on the family, and house keys may not be given. The idea of getting free rent seems to attract many students. The fact is that once you are here in Spain, it is a lot less attractive, and in the last 6 years not one student in Granada has chosen to live under these conditions. Budget yourself with the intentions of paying rent so you are not mislead when you arrive.

There is also housing with a family where you pay monthly rent instead of teaching English. One student recently found a Spanish woman and her young daughter to live with and found this to be the most rewarding part of her experience. Not only is there the opportunity to improve one's Spanish, but also to experience many Andalucian customs that other students may not be exposed to by living with other American students.

Living with Spanish Students

Many students choose to live with Spanish students. You get to speak Spanish everyday and learn a great deal about customs and inner workings of the student culture. Good roommates can become good friends. In Granada, groups of friends are very close-knit, which can make entering a social group more difficult. Therefore, it is best to live and become friends with your roommates and subsequently his or her friends.

FOOD (Top)

The standard breakfast in Europe is coffee and tostadas (toast). Lunch is the first real meal of the day and is served between 2:00-3:00 PM. The evening meal is served at 9:00 or 10:00 PM. Between meals a light snack is sometimes eaten at noon, and most people have a merienda, a heavier snack, at 7:00 PM. Meals are accompanied by water, wine or beer; milk is not served at meals. Bread is consumed in large quantities so be prepared for lots of it. Dessert is usually fruit or flan (custard).

The Spanish diet, of course, is a very new experience in itself. Many Granadinos cook with abundant amounts of olive oil. However, the señoras are used to cooking with sparing amounts if so asked by their boarders. Sunflower oil (aceite de girasol) is lighter than olive oil. It can take a while, up to two months, for one's system to adjust to the heavy olive oil.

The Spanish diet is based upon eggs, bread, potatoes, chicken, ham, pork, and fish. Be prepared for their great love of ham. It is everywhere! The variety and quality of fish and other seafood's are excellent as they are brought fresh daily from the coast. The fruit and vegetables are good as a result of Spain's southern position in Europe, and its Canary Islands products give it an unrivaled position in year-round agricultural production. The fruit looks bad on the outside but is very delicious. The high content of oil and starch tends to add weight to many Americans, but the weight gain may be attributed to students' eagerness to try all the pastries and tapas. If you want wheat bread, ask for pan integral. A good rule is to try all food. You may not like it, but it will be a new experience.

Vegetarians will have a hard time eating out. Vegetarianism is not common. The typical Spanish meal revolves around meat. Spaniards seem almost offended if you turn down their morcilla, jamon, and chorizo. Alternatives to Spanish food can be found in Mexican, Chinese and Italian restaurants. Chinese restaurants have an excellent menu del dia almost everyday for about €5.50-8.00. Oatmeal, whole wheat and rye bread can be found in health food stores and sometimes in regular supermarkets. Vitamins are very expensive and can be purchased in pharmacies.

Spain, like all European countries, uses the metric system. It is helpful that you have a fair knowledge of this system for meats, vegetables, etc. Figure a kilo roughly as two pounds (2.2 actually). A liter is a little over a quart. By all means bring a measuring cup (lightweight plastic) for your American recipes-and be sure to bring your favorite recipes along although you can buy Spanish ones here.

The best prices on food are found in the market San Augustín (located one block north of the Cathedral, Gran Vía side). Take a shopping bag with you as they give everything to you wrapped in newspaper. The fish market is excellent, as there are so many different kinds of fish. Swordfish, a favorite of former students, is reasonably priced and called aguja. Another favorite fish is merluza-and extremely reasonable, too. Sole (lenguado) is also excellent. There are also many small supermercados (also called ultramarinos or autoservicios) located all over town. Health food stores are called herbolarios. "Supermercados" Dani, Spar and Mercadona (Camino de Ronda) and Guerrero have a reputation for having the cheapest prices in town. Hipercor, El Corte Inglés have some American and Mexican foods.

Many Spanish restaurants post and serve a menu turístico, a variant of the French table d'hôte, which, at least in theory, is cheaper than ordering a la cart. This may or may not be true. The simple solution is to decide what you want and add up the costs under both systems for comparison. El Corte Inglés is probably the closest thing to an American supermarket, but the prices are generally higher. It is open during the siesta. It is best to shop and compare. Alcampo is another place similar to an American supermarket. It is located three blocks from the bus station. Take bus 3 or 33.

EXERCISE (Top)

Aside from walking, exercise is not a part of a typical Spaniard's life-style. Do not jog or walk alone at night. Various other forms of athletic activity can be found in Granada. One gym that many of us really enjoyed was Gimansio Imagen on Calle Santa Paula, 29-the owner is American! Other gyms are Gimnasio TNT (28 Euros a month), Gimnasio Triunfo (30 Euros/month) or Neptuno Wellness Centro (upscale gym, 65 Euros/month).  If running is your bag, there is a track (sometimes with hot showers) at the Estadio de Juventud on the northern end of Camino de Ronda. The jogging trails in the hills above the Alhambra are tranquil and challenging. People also run at the Parque García Lorca. Walking paths are hard to find but an excellent path is following the Genil River near Paseo de Salán towards la Carretera de la Sierra. Dance studios of all kinds can also be found in the yellow pages.

One possible way to make new friends is to join one of the basketball, volleyball, or soccer teams. There is usually one made up of extranjeros that plays the españoles for benefits. The games are very popular and taken in the best of fun. Usually sponsored by the different cursos in the Facultad (such as English or History), the games' proceeds go toward financing their Fin del Curso trip. Skill is definitely not necessary and everyone in our group thoroughly enjoyed both watching and participating. By the end of a few games we were great friends with our Spanish opponents. Note: A lack of documentation has kept some students from participation in athletic events. Make sure that you fill out all the paperwork as soon as possible to assure yourself a position on the desired team. Women are not allowed to join some teams (i.e. soccer).

Those who are interested in getting involved in sports should inquire in the offices located in the back of the Corredor Universitario on the Avenida de la Constitucin, where university teams are organized. Skiing fans should join the club to take advantage of their cheap trips. Tennis is expensive (€.63 to rent the courts). These are located in Jardines Neptunes where the pool is also located. Bring your own equipment. Sports equipment is expensive here.

EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES (Top)

Let your imagination go wild... There seems to be more hours in a day for students in Spain. Take advantage of this opportunity. If you have always wanted to take yoga classes-Do it! Most students explore a wide range of activities.

Yoga - Yoga classes are offered at Cosmos Gym. With membership to the gym, the fee was only $15 a month. Without membership, $30. There are other gyms and associations that offer similar classes.

Guitar - A great way to take a little of Spain home with you. Flamenco lessons and beginning guitar lessons can be taken privately. Usually signs are posted at school. Antonio Morales rarely has openings, but if you get lucky he is located on Cuesta Gomérez #9 (on the way up to the Alhambra). The price is around $60-70 a month for 2 hours a week. Antonio makes guitars and owns the store on C/Gomérez.

Sevillanas - Sevillanas is a traditional dance that is practiced a lot in the south, especially during the fairs. Private lessons vary in price. Usually for 2 hours a week, $30 a month is a good average rate. We enjoyed Eli Samaniego Linares. For info call 55 14 35 and ask for her husband Miguel Román Morillas. She will either come to your own home or in groups of 3-4 people she'll give classes at her house. It's a lot of FUN! Also, many Spanish students know Sevillana and would not mind teaching.

Flamencología Classes - The flyer comes out in late January. It is an interesting class and costs $100. It is through the University, but you have to pay the $100 fee.

Skiing - There are many student clubs and organizations that have weekend trips and discounts on lift tickets. Stop by the University Sports Dept. located on C/Severo Ochoa s/n tel: 24 31 42. For more info look at the Sports and Exercise section. Mundo Joven (a youth travel agency) has a GREAT 6 day ski trip to the French Alps for $400. Check out the Sierra Nevadas, buses leave the Palacio de Congresos at 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM during low season. Otherwise, they leave regularly from the main bus station. You can go for a half day or full day. Many students take the bus and have a great time.

Volunteer Work - There are several organizations, especially those working with children, which offer various "trabajos voluntarios." Although they tend to be slightly more difficult to get involved in than those at home, it is well worth the effort if you're interested. The University has a program that provides opportunities to volunteer in many locations like hospitals, with children or the homeless. Ask Maria for details or you can find information at any Facultad.

MONEY AND BANKING (Top)

The value of the dollar is always changing. The Euro became effective in March 2002. Keep your eye on the exchange rate as you prepare your budget. One way to get around losing more money is to open an account with a bank as soon as you arrive in Granada. This way the commission of a minimum of €1.50 does not have to be paid each time money is exchanged. It may be a good idea to bring money in traveler's checks, as the exchange rate is better than it is for cash; and they are useful for travel both in Spain and in other countries.

Bank services are similar to those in the U.S. A checking account is the most convenient type, and usually there is a service charge for checks ($1.50-$3.00) and for ATM. With a bank account you are eligible for a cash Card that allows them to take money out of their bank account from the network of Spanish automatic teller machines throughout the country. Banco de Bilbao-Vizcaya, Banco Exterior, and Caja de Madrid are all linked with ServiRed, a particularly extensive network of ATM's.

Cashing checks in Spain is not as easy as in the U.S. In general, a bank will not cash a check written on a U.S. bank account. It takes about a month to have personal checks clear (although it can vary from one to six weeks). Sometimes you are charged $5 or more for cashing a check drawn on a U.S. bank account. If you use this method, bring at least one book of checks with you and leave the rest with a co-signer (a parent, sibling, or a friend who can be trusted). When cashing a check, most banks have about a 5% commission rate.

With a bank account in Granada, transfers from U.S. banks to a bank account in Spain can be made. Usually the money arrives without difficulties within seven to ten days (three to five if sent "urgente," which costs more); but the error rate (e.g., being sent to the wrong bank) is much higher than in the U.S., so that it is not uncommon to have to trace a lost transfer that can take 4-6 weeks. An alternative to transfers is to arrive with all the money you will need for the year in traveler's checks or with a cashier's check drawn on a U.S. bank and open an account with these.

An American Express card can be used as an ATM card to remove money from your checking account in the U.S. This guarantee allows you to change dollars to euros at the American Express office by cashing a check. But they are known to run out of money by noon. If you do not already have an American Express card, consider applying for one, bring personal checks with you, and have your family and/or friends deposit money in your bank account back home. An important thing to remember is that in order to take money out of the ATM here, you will need to have an international pin number (make sure it is 4 digits).

The American Express office is a small one, located on Avenida Reyes Católicos, 31 (Hours for cashing checks: 9:00 AM-8:00 PM). It is not an office of American Express like the one in Madrid but a very small travel agency that is associated with American Express.

Another very convenient way to get cash is by using a VISA card. Obtain an international pin number; make sure it is 4 digits, before you leave the U.S. This card can be used at almost all automatic bank teller machines throughout major cities all over Europe. You can also take out cash advances with your VISA card at many banks. The disadvantage of both of these methods is the high interest rate charge beginning with the day of the transaction. Students can ask their banking institution for a "VISA Check Card". This particular VISA card acts just like a VISA card, but the expenses are deducted for the student's checking account and not charged to their VISA account. The "VISA Check Card" also serves as an ATM card. It is a good idea to get your pin number before you leave. Write down the phone number for "lost or stolen cards" somewhere separate from where you keep your VISA check card. Also, many banking institutions have on-line banking, which can be an extremely convenient way to monitor the balance of your checking account, even if you have someone at home handling your finances.

Bring two credit cards because sometimes one is demagnetized for unknown reasons or on other occasions a bank automatic teller machine might not return your card. This is a safety device against unauthorized use of your card. In California if there is a problem, the machine tells you to see a service agent. Here, the machine just keeps your card. A second card is a good insurance policy in case you have trouble with your first one which can take 4-6 weeks to replace. An alternative to transfers is to arrive with all the money you will need for the year in traveler's checks or with a cashier's check drawn on a U.S. bank and open an account with these. Make sure that your card doesn't have an expiration date for the first part of the year.

Convenient banks to use are Central Hispano. Almost every bank in Granada has a corresponding bank in the U.S. through which money can be sent. Banco Español de Crédito (BANESTO) is linked with Security Pacific Bank and will even cash a check drawn on a Security Pacific account that same day. Check to find out if there is a corresponding bank to your bank in the U.S.

The exchange rate has made living in Granada less of a bargain than in years past, although it is still inexpensive relative to many Spanish cities. Your monthly allowance should include funds for such items as transportation, theaters and snacks, as well as laundry, personal needs, books, weekend travel and miscellaneous expenses. Extra money should be budgeted for vacation and summer travel. A frugal student staying in Granada for a month could spend $600, but the average student spends around $500 to $700 per month. Trips to Cordoba, Málaga, Sevilla, and the beach are easily made on the weekends and will cost at least $45 for everything. The little expenses tend to add up; the most common: coffee, €.80-1.20; beer, €.80-1.20; a pastry, €.85-1.25; a movie, €5.00 (3.00 Wednesdays). At the Cine Alhambra art films are often offered, and each month posters are put up all over Granada advertising musical and theatrical events. Rent in Granada is approximately 300 Euros per month, in addition to other expenses.

There is a Citibank located in Granada and in several locations throughout Europe.  Speak with your local Citibank about the international discounts you can possibly receive in Spain and travelling throughout Europe. 

Tipping: Observation shows that Spanish students usually do not tip. In most establishments, the service is already included in the bill. Some places, especially more expensive restaurants, do not include the service in the bill, in which case tipping 10% of the bill is a general rule; but this varies according to services received. In restaurants and bars, small change is enough for a drink or snack, depending on the service.

SERVICES (Top)

Medical: The doctor is Dr. Juan Ortiz Espinosa, C/Emperatirz Eugenia, 15 27-A, 27.94.49 (emergency 27.94.72). In an emergency you should go in a taxi to the Hospital Universitario San Celilio, on the Highway to Madrid (at the corner of Cardenal Parado) or the emergency clinic at the Hospital Ruy de Alda. In the case of illness, always contact the Granada Program Assistant who will be able to assist you with any problem you might have, such as finding a specialist or getting you an appointment even if the doctor is all booked up. Stomach problems did a number of us in this year. A good preventative measure against this problem is to wash your fruits and vegetables well and stay away from un-refrigerated, mayonnaise-based dishes served as tapas in most restaurants. The particular health problems in Spain are coughs, diarrhea, salmonella, and alcoholism. There is occasionally a problem in finding hospital facilities that meet American standards of physician specialists. The pharmaceutical industry is a major one and manufactures a vast array of reliable but often-expensive medicines. However, some specialized medicines are not available in Spain; so if you have a special requirement you should bring the medicines with you. Also, you might think about bringing Pepto-Bismol, as the Spanish equivalents are not as good. Ask for the cheapest brand of the medicine you want.

Spanish pharmacists are highly trained, and they will read the formula on your American bottle and give you the exact equivalent in another brand. On the other hand, common sense dictates special precautions on the part of students having rare ailments requiring obscure, special, or individually compounded drugs. These students should bring their own supply, or make prior arrangements with a Spanish pharmacy to stock them. You will have the same difficulty locating rare pharmaceuticals in Madrid or Granada that you would have in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Bring your own birth control products! Dr. García Gonzales (office: Avenida de Madrid 1° 30) speaks English. Another recommended physician is Dr. Don Miguel Hermoso (Edificio Cervantes, Piso 5° B), a gynecologist trained in New York. He's very helpful with advice, shots, etc. Go at 5:00 PM. Ask friends or roommates for advice about physicians.

Contac is sold under the name Durasina. Students can bring their favorite remedy for diarrhea, as the change in diet and hours affects many for a while and you may find it more comfortable to use a familiar remedy. For intestinal upset Lomotil is a recommended American drug, but it is not sold in Spain. Describe your symptoms to the pharmacist, and he will recommend a Spanish medication that will do the trick.

If you suffer from some sort of life long illness such as asthma, it would serve you to bring your own medicine for the year abroad.  Also if you have allergies to certain foods and suffer from antiphelactic reactions, it would also serve you to bring your epipen to Spain. 

Religion: Spain is almost 95% Roman Catholic and finding Catholic services to attend in one of at least 10 churches in Granada is no problem. Iglesia de San Francisco, on Camino de Ronda has a good feeling of community. If you want an English Bible, you had better bring one with you. There are a few Protestant churches in Granada. A Baptist church is on C/ Angel Barrios. There are no Jewish services. However, there is a small Sephardic Jewish community. For contact with these individuals go to the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras in Cartuja-Departamiento de Hebreo. The closest Jewish community in Andalucía is in Málaga. To find out where the synagogue is you should call the office of tourism in Málaga at (954) 21 34 45. There are other Jewish communities in Madrid and Barcelona. The Mormon Church is in Avda America.

Telephone: Buy a cell phone. Expect to spend around $70 for a cell phone. The students here this year (2008) found them to be the easiest form of communication within Spain and receiving calls is free (so try to get your family and friends from the U.S. to call you).

AT&T's Reach Out World program is recommended. MCI and Sprint have similar plans (Your family should sign up before you leave the States). Rates for AT&T and MCI International calling plans charge 30¢ a minute any day, anytime. (AT&T: 1-800-4-ONE-RATE)

Anywhere in Europe you can get an English-speaking operator through U.S.A. Direct. In Spain, the number is on the phone (900990011). This connects you with an operator with whom you can make either a collect call, a credit card call, or a calling card call. With an AT&T calling card you use the domestic, not the international number, and the rates are $2.50 to connect, $1.96 for the first minute, and $1.06 every minute after that. The best (and cheapest) is to buy calling cards at local stores. You can buy them from El Corte Ingles, tobacco shops or even photo stores. You have to use them from a telephone booth, but they are the cheapest.

Orange, one of the cell phone providers in Spain, offers a 5 euro international calling card that is good for 60 minutes.

Post Office: The Spanish mail system is not very reliable, and mail rates are high. A half ounce letter (two pages airmail stationery) costs €.70; postcards the same, and take 12 days (up to 21 days sometimes) from California to Granada and vice versa, if all goes well. Surface packages take from two to five months, depending on luck. Spanish aerogrammes are only available at the main post office for €.50. It is best to buy several of them if your timing is right and they happen to have them when you ask. One of our major expenses has been for stamps and postage. Foreign correspondence within Europe is €.35, and correspondence within the country is a bargain, with a letters and postcards costing €.20. Stamps can be bought at any tobacco stand or at the post office itself. There are numerous Internet cafes with good prices for students although they are rather slow. Expect to pay about €1.20/hour. To pick up packages from the main post office present your ticket along with a photo ID. To send things home at the end of the year, try any of the various shipping and handling companies (Look in the páginas amarillas). Also, call your airline. Iberia only charged $66.00 this Christmas for each piece of extra luggage (70 lbs.). If you have to send something home quickly, one service is SEUR on C/ Martinez Campo. It's expensive, but fast.

The central post office is located at the Puerta Real (9:00 AM- 9:00 PM). They also have a public fax machine there that costs $9.50 for the first pages and $6.00 for succeeding pages for messages to California. To utilize the fax in Spain you MUST bring with you fax numbers from the U.S. Consider obtaining the number of one of many public fax facilities in California that is close to your home. The branch of the post office that sends packages over one kilo is on Avenida de los Andaluces, next to the train station (RENFE). Expect lines around the noon hour. It is open from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Transportation: A good way to become acquainted with Granada is by walking; bring good shoes for this. The Granada buses cost €.70. A Bono Bus pass, good for 15 rides, can be purchased for €6.00 at any tobacco stand in the city. There are 12 routes through town and out to the nearby pueblos. The #8, U, C bus go up the mountain to Cartuja. From 7:00-9:00 AM , bus #1 goes to Cartuja.

There are also taxis (white with green stripes). Many drivers try to charge more than the meter reads, but the rule is that the meter is law. The meter should read €1.00 upon entering the taxi, and advances approximately €.21 per minute while in service. There is a €.20 suplemento between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM and on Sundays and national holidays; €.40 if it's a holiday just for Granada. There is a €.27 suplemento for carrying each piece of luggage. If a taxi driver tries to charge more than he's entitled, have him make out a receipt, ask for the hojas de reclamacion to fill out your complaint, write down his three number and one letter identification which can be found on the outside of the front doors, and report him to informacion al consumidor, the threat of which should be enough to take care of the problem. There is a large taxi stand at the Plaza de la Trinidad, the Cunimi, one at Puerta Real, and one at Plaza Nueva. However, Granada is a very compact city, and 90% of your transportation is provided by leg power. A taxi driver will charge €.30 to put your baggage in the trunk and to take it out.

Laundry and Dry Cleaning: In a home with a Spanish family, clothes will be either laundered by hand, or, in some cases, the señora will have a machine. Most pisos do not have dryers, so be ready to hang up you clothes to dry. If you have articles of clothing you really value, you may want to wash them yourself. There are many Laundromats. There is a Laundromat about two blocks from Estudios Hispánicos charging €1.80 for a wash and €.60 for 21 minutes of the dryer. For €2.40, the friendly attendants will do a load of laundry for you, which includes the soap. Dry cleaning costs about €3.60 for a dress or skirt.

Barber Shops: You can get a good razor cut in Granada for about €7.00-14.00 including tip. There are many good shops. Just be sure to explain and be firm about how you want your hair cut. They always cut more than you ask. So be assertive, tell them what styles you want, or let them know that you only want a trim! Ask around for good places to go. Some students recommend the uni-sex "peluquerías."

Beauty Parlors: There are peluquerías on practically every block in Granada, and most are satisfactory. For a cut and style it costs about €15.00. A cut alone is €16.00. Light streaks, called mechas, are €12.00-15.00; bangs alone is €3.00. Perms or body waves are €13.00 minimum.

Shopping: Consumer items in every category are in good supply. Granada is behind Madrid in this respect, but almost anything can be bought in Granada with a little searching. Local industry in Spain supplies all basic items, and the merchants' inventories are supplemented by extensive imports from Africa, Europe, and the U.S.

A special word about the mid-winter sales. These usually begin just after the Christmas season is over, January 7, and are akin to our day-after-Christmas sales. If you are planning on getting a suede coat or other special items, wait until these sales as you stand a chance of saving up to 50%. All the stores have sales and some sales are wild the first day; but many shops stagger their sale days, so you do not need to run to them all at once. Sales last about one and a half months. Save your money for this.

One of the most overpriced items in Spain is anything electronic. Expect to pay twice the price for a stereo in Spain than one would pay in the U.S. Unless one has several hundred dollars budgeted for buying clothes while in Spain, it's highly recommended that the bulk of one's wardrobe be brought from home. Custom tailoring for both men and women is much cheaper than in California. Spanish shoes have been a "hit". Be prepared to want to buy a few pairs. You can find cool shoes reasonably priced in many of the "hundreds" of shoe stores. Spanish boots can be purchased for around €25.00-75.00. Athletic shoes of good quality are very expensive and best brought from home. It's wise to bring Dr. Scholl's foot supports from the U.S. if you plan on buying any shoes in Spain or Portugal, as the shoes are made without arch support; many of Granada's streets and sidewalks are cobblestones. Sweaters, clothes, boots and leather goods are generally cheaper in Portugal.

Merchants and people in general are meticulously proper and honest and one is not likely to be cheated here, although one should always be slightly skeptical, especially when a shopkeeper promises that an out-of-stock item will be in by the afternoon of the next day. Some people, however, can't add. Generally merchants/salespeople are pushy and make you feel obligated to buy something. (Browsing is frowned upon). Haggling is not acceptable in shops, but you can ask for discounts (rebajas)-do not press the point.

Granada has a flea market (rastro), La Marcha Verde, which is located in the Polígono de Almanyajar on Sundays, Zaidín on Saturdays, and in Chana on Wednesdays. Clothes, particularly sweaters at reasonable prices, shoes, fruits and vegetables and various other items can be purchased at this mobile market from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM Haggling is acceptable (just don't get cheated).

Business hours in Spain are from 9:00 AM-2:00 PM and from 5:30 PM-8:30 PM, and morning hours only on Saturdays. Panaderías and small corner stores are open on Sunday mornings, but virtually all of the other stores are closed.

Little specialty shops sell, item by item, virtually everything you need. La farmacia, frutería, panadería, papelería, and librería are all self-explanatory. Listed below are the ones that aren't.

(Top)

FERRETERIA

 

PERFUMERIA

 

BODEGA

Tools

 

Colognes, perfumes

 

Wines

Television parts

 

Shampoo

 

Liquors

Electrical instruments

 

Kleenex

 

Soda Pop

Kitchen utensils

 

Toilet Paper

 

 

CALZADOS (ZAPATOS)

 

ULTRAMARINOS

 

DROGUERIA

Shoes

 

Canned goods

 

Cleaning products

House slippers

 

Vegetables

 

Sewing items

Handbags

 

Cleaning products

 

Paint

 

 

Sausages
Cooking oil
Wine
Beer

 

 

If there's a problem with prices or refunds at any public establishment, bars, restaurants, movie theaters, apartments, taxis, etc., ask for the hojas de reclamacin, in which one notes disputes over prices, refunds, etc. If the owner or attendant refuses to produce the forms, then go to the Oficina de Informacin al Consumidor located on Gran Capitán, 24, telephone number: 29 47 00.

VACATION AND TRAVEL (Top)

Despite the demands of the academic program, many students find time for weekend trips. Trips to Sevilla (pretty far-good for a three or four-day weekend), Cordoba, Málaga, Aluñecar, and other nearby spots are highly recommended. Not only do they provide a refreshing change from the routine of study, a large part of the south of Spain can be seen this way without using any of your valuable vacation time. Weekend group tours to the Sierra Nevada are available, and there is also daily bus service to the Sierra during ski season, costing €8.00 for the roundtrip. The bus leaves from the Estación de Autobuses. Bus tickets (€4.00) are bought in a cafe called Sol y Nieve on the Carrera de Genil-get there early. Be sure to check into the Club Alpino Universitario, as they offer very economical weekend trips for their members and provide an excellent opportunity to meet people. All Spanish cities of any size have an Oficina de Turismo, which will give you free information on the city and its surrounding areas.

The student travel office (T.I.V.E.), located on Calle de Martinez, off of Plaza de Gracia, offers discounts on travel, books, and movies. Their vacation time charter flights are especially good money savers. For around €.60, you can purchase a Carnet de Guía for discounts at movies, and various shops throughout Granada.

Especially well worth seeing are the Feria of Sevilla and the Fallas of Valencia. Make train reservations well in advance. The Feria of Sevilla, held the second week after Easter, is a ten-day celebration culminating in an exciting weekend of processions, bullfights, and fiestas. The Fallas of Valencia are in March, and end in a blaze of glory when the fallas themselves (huge cardboard statues satirizing aspects of contemporary life) are burned at midnight of the 19th. You should make hotel reservations for these events early, as they are internationally popular. Always check the student travel office for information regarding trips to the various events. During Semana Santa (Easter Week), the place to be in all of Europe is southern Spain. Sevilla is generally considered to have the most spectacular processions, but you will not be disappointed with Granada's fantastic display of color and festivity during this, one of the year's biggest celebrations and legal debaucheries. Málaga and Baeza also have spectacular Semana Santa celebrations.

The pensiones in Spain are available everywhere. They provide a clean room, bed, a toilet, and running water from about €25.00 per person, per night. Rooms are always cheaper when you travel in twos, as doubles are less than two singles. Always settle the price of the room before agreeing to take it, as the pension owners have some leeway in the price. There is an "official" price sheet on the back of the door to your room. You may pay in advance. You cannot rent a room without your passport, so carry it with you at all times while traveling. For those of you traveling via Madrid airport - when you arrive at airport Barajas (Madrid) there is an airport bus that goes from the airport to Plaza de Colón for €2.10. Do not take a cab - they rip you off!

Traveling in twos and threes also has other advantages over smaller and larger numbers. With large numbers it is harder to get transportation, lodging, and tickets to almost anything. Traveling in small numbers also leads to a more flexible itinerary, which in turn leads to a more exciting and rewarding trip. In addition, you meet more Spaniards in small groups, although you still have an American companion.

Members of the group have visited Morocco. It can be a spectacular and at times a bizarre adventure into a different culture, but be careful. It can be risky. Morocco, ruled by King Hassan II, is an authoritarian, if not totalitarian, country which can be intolerant of things that are at least passable in the U.S. Entrance into the country has been denied on occasion due to appearance, e.g., punk hair or shaven heads. There will be many people who will try to speak English to you and be your 'guide'. If you are not careful, you will have eight or ten 'guides' begging for money at the end of your tour. When buying goods in Morocco, offer one-third the stated price. They will try to change money on the black market, sell you smuggled goods, and sell hash and keef, which can cost you ten years in jail. Common sense is at a premium here; do not do anything about which you are not absolutely certain. Inoculations are not necessary for travel to Morocco, although it's a good idea to check with a doctor before leaving the U.S. if you plan on traveling to Africa.
The three-week Christmas vacation, starting the week before Christmas and lasting until the second week of January, ten days at Easter, and the summer give you an opportunity to see some of Europe. Most people travel by train or bus. Trains tend to be slower than the buses but allow you to move around and have bathrooms and often a dining car. Tarjeta Joven, which gives one a 50% discount on fares on "Días Azules," may be purchased by students under 26 years of age. Start preparing your trip at least one month in advance.

In most European cities there are student discounts on tickets for public events. Your student body card and your International Student Identity Card will enable you to save money at many museums and art galleries. An International Student Identity Card can be purchased at the T.I.V.E. Also be sure to travel with your “Carnet de Estudiante” that will be issued by Maria Maldonado.  It is your Centro de Lenguas Modernas student I.D. card, and it has proven helpful as well for discounts at several venues around Spain and the rest of Europe.  It shows that you are currently studying in Europe as well, which the ISIC card will not show.

A note about drugs: The penalty for violation of Spanish drug laws is usually more than severe. Once an American is apprehended for such violations the American Embassy can do little to help beyond supplying an attorney; it does not exert any "special" influence. You will be required to sign a statement releasing the International Programs from liability or responsibility should you be arrested for a drug-related violation. The American Embassy is obligated to respect Spanish law in all cases.

PREPARATION (Top)

Although your classroom and academic vocabulary in Spanish may be very good, the first thing you will need is an everyday vocabulary of such things as: "How do I get to...?" and other "easy" phrases that you do not think of until you need them. It will largely be a process of trial and error that will continue throughout the year as you try to master the colloquial speech, which is especially challenging in Andalucía. The people of this region speak the Andaluz dialect which is characterized by such changes as the elimination of the "s" and the "d" in the pronunciation of words as España = paña no epaña granada = Graná. The Spanish is also spoken very quickly, which may frighten you at first; but after awhile you will have adjusted to it all. Do not feel intimidated or frustrated. Spaniards are flattered when you speak Spanish, even through your grammar or accent may not be good. It takes a little getting used to but you will find that if you can understand and communicate in Andalucía, you can do so in any Spanish speaking country.

It is best to be up-to-date with events in the U.S. because Spaniards may surprise you with their knowledge of and interest in American foreign and domestic affairs. In general, anti-American attitudes are present, but your best friends may ask you deep, probing questions about the U.S. In the discussion of literature, Spanish students are interested in contemporary American trends and the latest authors and music.

Please be culturally aware of your country and Spain, In terms of the politics, economy, philosophies on life, and the history of Spain and other European countries.

In similar fashion, your knowledge of present-day Spain will prove valuable. It is time well spent to read up on the history of Spain from the Civil War to the present. Specifically, it is wise to know about the Civil War, about the changes that have taken place in the last 25 years as a result of increasing tourist trade, Franco, and the present socialist government.

Recommended reading (Bring this Student Experience Report with you):
Spain: The Root and the Flower: An Interpretation of Spain and the Spanish People by John A. Crow. A general introduction to Spanish history, culture, and thought. This book gives an excellent overview.

Politics and Change in Spain by Thomas D. Lancaster and Gary Prevost, eds. An excellent summary of the contemporary political scene in Spain. Your understanding of what is going on around you when you are in Spain will be significantly enhanced with the background this book provides.

The Spaniards by John Hooper. It is a very interesting overview of history and culture with an emphasis on the Post-Franco era. Iberia by Michener. Pinpoints cities all over Spain for traveling and history. The Battle for Spain by Anthony Beevor is an excellent account of the civil war.

PACKING (Top)

Spaniards are a proud, formal people, who always try to dress well and be fashionable. Spanish style is very uniform. If you want to be an individual, bring clothes from home. University students in Granada were once very formal, but now jeans, a sport shirt, and sweater are more common than a suit. Fashion codes may be more liberal than in the recent past, but sloppiness and misplaced casualness are not common among Spanish students, especially on the part of women. Women dress stylishly, but Spanish style is not the same as California style. Life and dress in Granada are casual, but never approaching "California casual." The only type of clothing that is acceptable in a worn condition is jeans (trousers and jackets).

Even more than style, the weather is more important in governing what to bring. Granada can be very hot and very cold, the most important being the cold. Winter temperatures are freezing every night, and in the daytime it might not rise above 40 degrees F. Houses are not heated. The temperature may not pass 60 degrees F for several months inside the house. Therefore, proper clothing is a necessity. Wool clothes are by far the best to keep you warm.

The first part of your year and the last will be hot, and you will need light summer cottons, preferably permanent press. However, as the major part of your stay is during the winter, the bulk of your clothing will be winter-oriented. Only bring a few spring outfits. (Everyone brought too many summer clothes.) Keep things to a bare minimum, especially in anticipation of sending all this home at the end of the year. Remember, you can always mail your winter clothes there in early summer, to arrive in time for winter, or have visiting friends/relatives bring them to you. Also, bring clothes that can be easily washed by hand. Don´t expect to find a dryer in your piso.

FOR WOMEN ONLY (Top)

Some students worry because of changes in their hormonal activity. Due to the long trip crossing many times zones, do not be surprised if your menstrual period changes drastically. It may be delayed for two weeks or even as much as two months! It may also come twice in one month! Your complexion may change temporarily too. These changes are temporary. Birth control pills (píldoras anticonceptivas) and other birth control devices, as well as pregnancy testing kits (pruebas de embarazo) are available at farmacias. Important: abortions are illegal in Spain, except in the cases of rape, incest or where childbirth would be seriously detrimental to the health of the mother. Students should also be aware that there is a good selection of feminine hygiene products and that their quality is comparable to that of the U.S. It is advisable to have Pap smears before leaving the U.S. because physicians fees are higher in Spain.

WHAT TO BRING (Top)

Books/Maps

  • English grammar book (Many students teach English in their spare time.)
  • 501 Verbs book
  • Travel Guidebooks (Lonely Planet guides preferred by students over Let's Go)
  • Spanish/English dictionary & a Webster's English dictionary
  • Maps of California /U.S./World (to show friends where you're from/give presentations).
  • Basic Cookbook
  • Address book to write to your friends back home
  • Bring small souvenirs or maybe some extra dollar bills for new friends you may meet abroad who get interested in where you are from.  You will be able to share with them a piece of where you are from as they share with you their culture.

Clothes

  • Two pair of comfortable walking shoes with thick soles
  • Gloves, a scarf, and wool socks - important!
  • Heavy winter coat, raincoat
  • Warm tights and sports wear - expensive here
  • Levi's (especially 501s)
  • Long underwear (Silk are the best. Try L.L. Bean)
  • Turtlenecks (always wear them under sweaters)
  • Men: warm sport coat (If you don't already have one now, wait and buy it here.), one dress shirt and one tie is fine
  • Slippers/Birkenstocks (For cold ceramic tile floors)
  • Swimsuit
  • Sweatshirt and sweat pants (make the best pajamas)

Health/Personal Care

  • Extra pair of glasses (or the prescription) - Sunglasses (very expensive here)
  • Women: Bring your own make-up and facial products. They're expensive here.
  • Personal hygiene products (toothpaste, shampoo, etc.) to last a month
  • Medication (Check with your doctor. Some medications aren't available in Spain.)
  • Birth control products (and condoms)
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Vitamins (They are expensive here.)
  • See the Dentist before coming - expensive here

Miscellaneous

  • Small Gifts from California (T-shirts, pens, key rings, calendars, etc.)
  • Photographs of home, family and friends
  • Beach towel, bath towels, wash cloths
  • MP3 player or discman (good for trips) and cheap speakers can be brought in lieu of a stereo system
  • CD's if you plan on buying a CD player ($100.00)
  • Travel Alarm Clock
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Electric transformers/converters for appliances. Make sure you bring the right kind. Note: Houses in the Albaicín and in older pisos often have 125 current. Always make sure before plugging in an appliance. It is better to buy a hair dryer here, rather than mess with the converter everyday. Also, some equipment might not work properly with a converter.
  • Fannie pack to carry valuables
  • Backpack - great when traveling on trains.
  • Camera
  • Hot sauce, ranch, and peanut butter cannot be found here

Make sure your name and the study center is clearly marked on the inside and outside of each bag. Always remove old destination tags. International flights, in general, allow two checked bags and one piece of carry-on luggage. Remember, you will be accumulating souvenirs, so by all means, do not over pack.
If you have any questions about ANYTHING, please feel free to call previous students and ask them about their experiences. Each school should have a list of students who offer their name and phone number in an effort to provide additional assistance to new IP students. It is very helpful to talk with those who have already experienced Granada.