Spain, Valencia – Alena Makhkina and Kate Milano – 2008-2009

Before you go

Picture from Valencia

  • Check the university website, especially the economics site –www.uv.es/economia– we found useful guides for international students, which tell you a bit about accommodation, the city, the university and other general things which you might need.
  • Take as many passport sized photos as you can – you’ll need one for each subject.
  • You don’t really need too many documents- all WE needed was our passports and it’s useful to have several photocopies, which you can do there quite cheaply in the locutorios.
  • The hostels do get booked up so it’s probably best to reserve. We stayed in Red Nest, in the very centre in Calle de la Paz, which you can find & book online. It is a good location but isn’t that near the university – you’ll need to get a bus or metro.
  • Remember to bring a warm jacket and jumpers etc as it did get cold in winter!

When you’ve arrived

  • It’s useful to have a good map – you can pick up free ones from any Tourist Office – there are several in town (centre, Calle La Paz).
  • Getting a Spanish SIM card is a good idea, we went with Yoigo and its very cheap to call within the network (12 cents an hour!)
  • The metro from the airport goes to the city centre and takes about 20 minutes. You need a zone AB ticket, which is €1,90. A taxi to the centre costs about €20. If you plan to use the metro or buses a lot, you can buy a ‘Bono Metro/Bus’ card, which for the metro costs just under €7 for 10 journeys and about €5 for the bus.
  • We didn’t have Spanish bank accounts but we’d advise you to get one, as it makes it easier to pay any bills (like Internet) and avoids charges withdrawing cash. When we went to register there was someone from Santander on the university campus and they spoke English for those who aren’t so confident!
  • We had a few problems with an internet provider called Ono, so we would avoid them next time!!

Looking for a place to live

Picture from Valencia

  • There is an accommodation service just off Calle Blasco Ibanez (called CADE). They did give a list of flats but they were all in the Benimaclet area. It isn’t too far, although remember Business/Economics is on the Tarrongers campus, which is the opposite end of Blasco Ibanez. Believe us it’s a long road, even though on a map it doesn’t look it! There are plenty of flats available nearer the campus.
  • We found our flat via a lamppost- they are very useful! This is a normal thing in Spain, especially for students in the Blasco Ibanez area. Be careful when there’s a few people viewing the same flat, people can be a bit pushy – when we went to see one flat, the room had basically gone as soon as we walked in!
  • Beware of “intermediary guys” who charge commission for helping you to communicate with the actual landlord but don’t always tell you this at the beginning!  It is normal, and the agencies will do the same, but just make sure you know how much this is going to cost. If advertised by the actual landlord you might avoid this extra expense.
  • Timing is different in Spain, the working day starts at around 8.30, with a long lunch break/siesta from around 2-4pm, then back to work 4-10. Therefore it’s quite normal to call or arrange things, like seeing a flat later in the evening. For example, the landlord sometimes collected rent at 11pm!
  • There is often no central heating in the flats and it did get quite cold! We found that the best value for blankets and a cheap duvet was the supermarket Carrefour.

University

  • When you go to register for modules, it is definitely worth signing up for all the modules you want to take in both semesters, maybe even extra ones in case you don’t like them – it is easier to quit the module and there will be few available spaces later in the year.
  • During registration make sure you’re put in the groups that you want. For example check the language- you probably won’t want a subject in Valenciano! Again, there might be no spaces to change modules or groups later.
  • Don’t expect to be told exactly what to do and when, they are quite relaxed and sometimes it takes a while for things to be processed. Timing is not overly strict, so don’t stress yourself out, you’ll have enough of that outside!
  • We’d recommend taking a Spanish course at the Centro d’Idiomas. It’s not a part of the university but you do get a discount. 60 hours there counts for 6 credits. The classes are for Erasmus students, so it’s a good way to meet people.
  • Exams are a bit different- people sometimes ask questions and you can leave once you’ve finished, sometimes there’s not even a teacher!
  • You will need to check the exam timetables on the noticeboards, often there is more than one classroom for the same exam, so make sure you sit with the right group.
  • If you fail you can re-take and your assignments (prácticas) will still count.
  • Most of our subjects (business) had multiple choice as part of the exam, with negative marking.

Picture from Valencia Picture from Valencia Picture from Valencia

Social

  • University life is different. There are sports teams but no societies, so you might not interact with too many Spanish students.
  • There is a separate organisation called Erasmus Valencia (see www.erasmusvalencia.com ), which is free to join and offers trips and socials.
  • There’s a lively nightlife, but to go to clubs you must be prepared to wait until 3am, as it’s empty before then! The drinks in clubs are expensive, although you can buy tickets in advance, which include a drink.
  • There’s a lot to do and see – the old town, cathedral (climb the tower- amazing views and get the size shock at the beginning!), Turia, Bioparc, City of Arts and Sciences, Mestalla football stadium, UGC cinemas with films in original language (English!), shopping centres (El Saler, Nuevo Centro, Aqua), the beach, La Albufera (lagoon)….
  • If you’re into the theatre & performances, Reina Sofia in the City of Arts and Sciences, has amazing student discounts of 35%.
  • Fallas is a week holiday but don’t go home that week! It’s one of the best experiences you’ll have.
  • If you want to know about things going on in and around the city, the tourist information centres provide a lot of free information and leaflets.

Picture from Valencia Picture from Valencia

Have a great time & feel free to contact us if you need any help.

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