Department of Spanish & Latin American studies
I want to share my precious life in Almeria, Spain by being an exchange student. Therefore, this passage will be personal and subjective. I went to Spain through the ‘Off-Campus’ program. I got to be in Spain for five months. I received 800 Euros a month and 1,100 Euros for the plane ticket as part of a scholarship. However, even though I was an exchange student of CBNU, the University of Almeria also had to accept me. While waiting for the admission, I concentrated on doing extra-curricular activities and other things for my future.
● The reason why I chose the University of Almeria
There are three main universities in Spain that CBNU students can go to as exchange students, generally; “Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Universidad Autonómico de Barcelona, and Universidad de Córdoda.” The University of Alemria I chose was a rare case. It’s called ERASMUS+ from the ERASMUS Foundation. This Foundation donates to European students’ living expenses and provides an opportunity to study in a European country. So, this ERASMUS+ program is not common at all for an Asian student to participate in. However, this opportunity came up, including a scholarship, so I did not want to lose it.
● About the University of Almería(UAL) and living in Almería
The location of the UAL is far from the general residential area. Normally, it takes 20 minutes by bus or car. Therefore, UAL offers transportation at a low price. I bought a transportation card which cost 27 Euros. With this card, I didn’t need to charge anything for a month. The big difference between Korea and Spain, is the vicinity of the university to the city, because there is nothing for students near the university. The infrastructure is in the general residential places and the center of the city. These days, most of the students live in shared flats which are called “piso compartido”. I was charged 150 Euros, which is cheaper than some houses that are close to CBNU.
Most of Spanish and exchange students stay in a piso compartido. If you go to real estate, you have to pay enough for payment. Many people prefer to find their home through web sites or through friends and acquaintances. Before I go to Spain, I want to look for some house that I want by whatsapping and reading web pages like "Milanuncios" and "Idealista”. Despite these attempts, I couldn’t find my home by them until I arrived in Almería. Fortunately, an acquaintance of Erasmus WhatsApp group showed me a girl, who offered me her piso compartido. I had to stay in Civitas, as a university residence. It is very cheaper than other hostels. The price is 18 Euros for one night even with the breakfast; however, it was not suitable for someone who wants to live in a place long time. So I live with three Spanish friends sharing a large room, two bathrooms and kitchen.
One advantage of staying in a piso compartido, is that you can meet many more native-Spanish speakers. It is obvious that I should more improve my level as high as my Spanish roommates Cristina, Alba and Julia. Cristina introduced me to her friends to be friends. Besides that, she invited me to a “botellón”. In Spain, it is illegal to drink liquors in the street. In spite of that, the young people stay in a park or in a garage to get drunk and this action is called botellón. Cristina works in the ESN office. ESN is a system for foreign students. They threw a party for the Erasmus; make a trip to other places. It is easy to meet some friends who came from different countries.
However, the disadvantage of a piso compartido is very clear, especially when it comes to depending on the landlords. If they are stingy, your life in the piso compartido will be hard. Although you complain and suggest, they won’t listen to you. They will just say, "I do not understand," and blame you. I once asked him to change a mattress because it was so old. However, the owner refused my offer and said, “Others are okay, and why you say just like that”. They treated me like I was crazy.
● About learning language
If you want to study Spanish, you should have a good desire and need to become familiar with foreigners. It means we need to know many people who speak Spanish as their mother tongue or who Spanish-as-a-foreign-language speakers, like I was. You have to have good courage and a lot of patience so that you can avoid the ignorance. If you have problems with your own prejudice, you can’t solve that problem. So, to have patience is really important in relationships with others. If you are a boy or girl who can speak with Spanish speakers fluently, you should learn another culture. Also, I want to recommend you approach others without fear. I think the best way to learn Spanish is to get to know the Spaniards.
There were eight Koreans in Almeria, during the time I was there. One person had no problem talking to Spaniards, while another had difficulty in speaking even English. However, the attitude of these people was very important. Even if you know just Hola, you can learn little by little. Everyone has their own way of learning another language. When I was in Korea, I studied and memorized more than 1,000 Spanish sentences. However, I changed my study habits in Almeria. I used to often go clubbing and drinking with friends from other countries just like Italy, Mexico, and Ecuador. I hope you to find your own way to study other languages. There is a language course for foreign students at the Universidad de Almeria. However, I would not recommend you to register. I was a student in the high level course, but the professor who taught us was not good. Also, there were too many people in a class. So, I thought it was not a good environment to improve my Spanish.
There are many reasons to go or not to go abroad. I recommend you to experience living overseas if you have the opportunity. As I have told you, life abroad is very precious. In particular, you can realize your fantasies in reality. For example, you can improve the level of your language, meet different types of people and experience various things that you can’t enjoy in Korea. The most important thing is that we can’t live younger than today, and I hope I can live this day as last day of my life. If you agree with me, you would read this paper with a smile.
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