18. Oktober 2019
In dieser Woche erwartet euch etwas Anderes auf dem Azubiblog: Ein super informativer englischsprachiger Erfahrungsbericht von Sunna, die ein Semester in Almeria verbracht hat.
Wenn auch ihr über ein mögliches Auslandssemester grübelt, dann bleibt direkt dran!
Right from the start I was convinced that I would like to use the opportunity to complete onesemester of my dual studies abroad. Especially the chance to experience the Spanish lifestyle, improve my Spanish skills and build a great network with students from all over Europe led to my decision to apply for an Erasmus semester in Spain.
My final decision to go to Almería was then made easily. Almería is a typical, small city locatedin Andalusia (three hours from Malaga) directly next to the sea. It is known to be the city with the most sun hours in Spain which makes the climate very pleasant throughout the entire year.
Given the circumstances to usually study in Hamburg, I wished to experience the typical student life in a smaller city once and Almería was perfect for that.
After the decision for the UAL, I had to start my application at the HSBA. The application consisted of a personal statement, a curriculum vitae with a certificate of language skills, an example of a potential allowance for modules and the application form of the HSBA. At the same time, I had to talk with my company about the upcoming foreign semester, which exceeded the semester at the HSBA almost two months. Fortunately, my company exempted me for seven weeks so that I did not have to take any vacation.
After my acceptance by the HSBA, a few more documents like the nomination or the registration at the UAL followed. This was the first time I got in contact with the very relaxed culture in Spain: My documents got signed by the UAL just last minute. But in the end, everything turned out well and I could finally book my flight. I decided to fly directly to Almería and not to Malaga as many students do. This way, I did not need to take an extra bus for three hours to eventually arrive in Almería (approx. 20€) which I found was very convenient.
I booked my flight one week before the start of the semester to look for a flat in Almería and arrive smoothly. For the first week, I booked an Airbnb in the center from where I could reach most of the parts of the city on foot. There are some websites where you can find flats in Almería, but I experienced that the pictures on the internet sometimes differ decisively from reality. On that account, I recommend screening flats on the internet beforehand and arrange a few viewing appointments for the first days in Almería. In total, I visited four flats and fortunately found a shared flat in Zapillo, which is the district next to the beach where most students live.
I would firmly recommend looking for a flat in Zapillo as it is near to the center where the whole the nightlife takes place, the beach as well as the university (it took me 20 minutes by bike to go one way). In a nutshell, it is the place to be for an Erasmus student in Almería.
Living in Almería is compared to Germany very cheap. In total, I paid about 250€ per month for my flat which was a considerably modern flat with a great roof top terrace and a fenced parking space where I could leave my bike. However, you can also find cheaper flats without problems. I shared my flat with five other Erasmus students from the Netherlands, Italy, France, Czechia and Slovenia and two of the girls got my best friends during my foreign semester.
The UAL is a large university which is located directly next to the sea. It has a beautiful campus with a large library, copy shops and many small cafés and canteens. Personally, I really liked the great sports offers at the university. Besides a gym (20€ for the whole semester plus a sports t-shirt with the UAL logo) the university provided a swimming pool, a sauna, soccer and tennis courts as well as the opportunity to participate in many other activities off the campus
like skiing in the Sierra Nevada, Hiking, Surfing or Rafting.
My first weeks at the UAL were very chaotic as many of my courses were overlapping and I didn’t know what to do. Courses always consist of lecture groups and working groups in which you are supposed to apply the taught contents of the lectures. The final grade is mostly composed of the final exam (about 65%), the cases and essays you write at home and in working groups (about 25%) and attendance (10%). However, the percentage of each component depends on each module. As attendance is mostly mandatory, I changed one module for another which better fitted my timetable. Nevertheless, I had one lecture that I could not attend once and only went to working groups. This was not optimal, but I got the impression that the UAL just does not expect Erasmus students to take as many courses as I did. Beside learning the contents of the modules, you will learn to be relaxed at the UAL, for sure.
Whenever you have some changes in your timetable, documents that need to be signed or other challenges, the professors will take any possible effort to help you, but in the time, they need. As I have mentioned before, a great part of the all in all Spanish culture is the easy-going atmosphere and during your semester you will get used to the mood “No te preocupes. No pasa nada”.
As our dual study system does not intend us to lengthen our student days due to courses we haven’t taken so far, I knew from the start that I would take as many deductible courses in Almería as possible. Eventually, I took six courses: five in English and one in Spanish. About the course selection, I strongly recommend consulting former Erasmus students in Almería which
helped me a lot in compiling my own timetable. Keep in mind, that the course offering
distinguishes decisively between the winter and the summer semester, so that it makes sense to talk to former students from your semester.
Having taken six courses with altogether 36 credit points was not easy-going, but absolutely doable. As I have mentioned before, courses always consist of lecture and working groups for which you must often prepare homework, essays or small case studies. That’s why I consider the continuous workload during the semester as a little bit higher than at the HSBA. But especially because of that continuous and interactive studying in working groups, you will already be well prepared in exam period and consequently less stressed. Since I took most of my courses in English, there were mainly Erasmus students in it. This way, I could build a large network of Erasmus students from all over the world with whom I also spend most of my free time with. Our professors always knew about the fact of being an Erasmus student, so that they were always accommodating regarding any concern or question.
Even though I obviously had to attend university during the week, I travelled with friends around Andalusia every weekend for the first three months. As briefly described before, Almería is located in the south of Spain near Malaga in Andalusia. Andalusia has a variety of very interesting and beautiful places full of culture and special atmospheres to offer like Granada, Sevilla, Cádiz or Tarifa. One thing that makes the entire state so particularly unique is that, yet it is not overloaded with tourists. However, if you’re living in Almería you do not necessarily need to travel far to see beautiful and impressive places. Near Almería is the famous nature
parc called “Cabo de Gata” with its unique nature and deserted beaches. It surely is worth a hike, starting in the small village San José (one hour by bus from Almería).
If now, you are not convinced of Almería yet, let’s talk about tapas. In Spain and above all in Almería, you will fast realize that tapas are a big deal. Almería is called the capital of gastronomy in Spain and therefore the tapas culture is particularly strong. Whenever you order a beer in Almería, you get a tapa for free causing going out to be fairly cheap (2,50€ for each beer and three tapas definitely satisfied me). That’s why I went out for tapas about twice per week.
My lifestyle in Almería summed up in three key words: Travel, Tapas & Friends.
Living and studying for five months in Almería was amazing! Retrospectively, I cannot think of a better city for an Erasmus semester. The good weather throughout the entire year, the loose and relaxed people, the delicious tapas, the cheap living, the beach next to the door and all the wonderful travel destinations in Andalusia made my Erasmus semester an extremely unique and amazing experience during my dual studies. Particularly grateful am I for my new large and international network and my close friends which I got to know in Almería and while traveling. I am certain that I will keep in touch with them. I honestly think that Almería is the perfect city for an Erasmus semester and I can entirely recommend going there for an Erasmus semester. Vamos!