I wish I’d done an Erasmus year when I was at university. It wasn’t really on my radar at the time. But these days, for many students it’s yet one more rite of passage towards adulthood. But if I had chosen to study abroad for a year, I’d have done worse than choose Seville. It’s fun, without being ultra cool and has enough bars to keep the most hardened student appetite for alcohol satisfied. Plus more importantly compared to other European cities, it’s super cheap. Especially, if your night involves hanging out with your mates with a litrona or two of beer around a park bench on the Alameda.
So seeing as we’re almost half way through the summer holidays, and September’s foreign influx are thinking about getting sorted for the upcoming academic year, here’s my top 4 tips for getting sorted as student in Seville.
1. Find somewhere to live
There are three Universities in Seville: the University of Seville dating back to the 16th century, with its main building in what was the old tobacco factory, and others dotted around the city centre. Then there’s the more recent addition the Pablo Olavide (UPO), which is a campus university on the outskirts of the city, accessible by the metro system and buses, and finally the private Jesuit University, Loyola.
So choosing somewhere to live will depend on which university you’re going to and which part of the city you have to travel to each day, plus how much rent you can afford of course. Many students at Seville University choose to live around the San Bernado, Porvenir, Viapol, Nervion area, while anywhere on the metro line works for the UPO. A word of warning: the further you get out of the centre, particularly in the direction of the UPO university campus, the more run down the neighbourhoods. My advice, if you can afford to live closer to the centre, it’s worth the few extra Euros.
It’s also certainly a good idea to get some accommodation sorted before arrival, particularly as come September, there will be a mad dash from Spanish students as well. An accommodation website called Uniplaces, specifically aimed at foreign students, has rooms in shared flats or in family homes. Each place has been verified or visited in person by the website to ensure they are up to scratch. It’s a great way to have a safe and secure place to rock up to, rather than staying at a hostel or trying a complete unknown quantity.
2. Learn Spanish
Don’t fall into the trap of just hanging out with other foreign students while you’re in Seville. If you want to have a truly fun time in the city, it’s key to do your damndest to learn Spanish. Classes will be available at the University, but the best place to really pick up the lingo is hanging out with your Spanish classmates having a cervecita (beer). The good news is that this is the most frequent activity done outside class, so there will be plenty of opportunities to practice what you’ve been learning.
And definitely think about getting an intercambio – a language exchange. Both universities will have a foreign student organisation that will almost certainly facilitate language exchanges with Spanish students. It’s simply a matter of meeting up and speaking half the time in English and half the time in Spanish.
3. Whatever your hobby is at home – do it in Seville
Just because you’re away from home in a foreign country, it doesn’t mean that you have to put your favourite hobby on hold for a year. Quite the contrary, it might just be the perfect way to meet new people, students or otherwise and continue the cultural exchange. There were a lot of erasmus students at my friend Claudia’s outdoor yoga class in Parque Maria Luisa, but another great source for activities in the city is the Seville Meetup page.
4. Go visit Andalucia
I used to get the metro to the Pablo Olavide a few years ago and many times overheard American students recounting their seemingly weekly trips around Europe. Now I understand that if you’ve flown half way round the world and come from a country as big as a continent, hopping between Spain, Italy, and Ireland must seem like a piece of cake. But Andalucia is packed full of treasures much closer to home. So my advice is, if you’ve chosen Seville, forget the airmiles and just get acquainted with what’s on your doorstep – like some of the best beaches in Europe and beautiful mountain scenery just an hour from the city. Blablacar – the carsharing website – is a great way of getting around and also getting to know your fellow travellers.
So, now it’s just a matter of looking forward to what might just be the most exciting year of your life.