Full bars and Spanish serenity in AndalusiaCopyright: © L.Greiner
Southern Spain, that sounds quite good, Lennart thought when he applied for an Erasmus semester abroad in Granada in his third semester. At the time, he was not aware that Granada was a lively student city surrounded by mountains and close to the sea. There is much more to see in Granada than the famous Alhambra fortress.
In January 2021, Lennart applied via Erasmus for two semesters abroad with the hope that the lectures in Spain would finally be held in presence again. After being accepted in February, Lennart then flew to Malaga at the end of August and took the bus from there to Granada. Since it is customary in Granada to look for a flat on the spot, Lennart had no idea what to expect in Granada.
Like many other Erasmus students, Lennart spent the first few days in a hostel and quickly got to know other students, so that small groups of friends quickly formed, with whom they went out for tapas in the evening or to party in the club. Along the way, he visited flats, which are extremely affordable at 200-300€ rent per month, and quickly found what he was looking for. At weekends, Lennart took day trips with his new friends to Cordoba, Seville or the beaches on the Mediterranean, so the first few weeks felt a bit like a summer holiday, says Lennart.
After two weeks, in mid-September, the lectures began. The studies turned out to be applied and practice-oriented. Lennart found the atmosphere in the courses to be relaxed and pleasant due to a small number of students per course. In addition, the lecturers were addressed by their first names. In the first semester, Lennart mainly chose courses with many excursion days, as he was only able to take two excursion days during the pandemic in Aachen. At the University of Granada, at least one excursion day is offered in every subject and the excursion destinations are oriented to the main topics in the lectures. For example, they visited the marble quarry in Macael, a 5 million year old former coral reef in the middle of a sedimentary basin, or analysed varves and river terraces in the subject "Quaternary Geology". Of the 24 excursion days in two semesters, he liked best an excursion to the Mediterranean coast, where they analysed the folding of highly metamorphic rocks.
One of the highlights is the holidays and processions in Granada. During Easter and Corpus Christi, huge statues of saints were carried through the streets, accompanied by brass bands and people in penitential robes with candles. At first glance, it all seemed a bit creepy, but somehow also atmospheric and festive.
Lennart particularly liked the Sierra Nevada with the Pico Mulhacen, the highest mountain on the Iberian Peninsula. Together with other friends, Lennart went skiing twice and hiking several times in the summer. By car, he says, you can be at the ski resort within 45 minutes of the city. In addition to 100 kilometres of slopes, Erasmus students are even offered discounts on ski passes and ski equipment. In general, a lot of things in Granada are designed for students, says Lennart. You get into clubs for free before a certain time and you pay a reduced entrance fee to almost all the sights.
Lennart spent a lot of his free time in the numerous tapas bars in Granada. There, you get a free small dish with every drink you order - the so-called tapas. After the pandemic and the hard lockdown in Spain, Lennart had the feeling that many Spaniards are catching up on what they were denied during the pandemic Until midnight, people sit outside in the tapas bars, talk, drink and laugh. In the afternoons between 2 and 6 p.m., however, most shops close due to the unbearable heat. In summer, according to Lennart, the best way to bear the heat is with a cool Tinto de Verano, a red wine with lemonade. He also puts sunscreen on first thing in the morning so as not to get sunburnt. Luckily, the libraries were chilled, says Lennart, otherwise the exam period could only have been endured by studying at night.
If you want to get to know lots of international students, live cheaply, speak a bit of Spanish and get along well with a somewhat school-like university system, Lennart highly recommends Granada as a place to spend a semester abroad. Since he spent more time studying at the University of Granada than at RWTH Aachen after the two semesters abroad in his Bachelor's degree due to the pandemic, Lennart is looking forward to the first face-to-face lectures in Aachen and to relaxing evenings in the Westpark with his fellow students.