When and did you enjoy your mobility in Almería?
I stayed in the first semester of 2016-17. I chose Almería because I was very interested in agriculture and the semi-larid landscapes. Almería offered plenty of courses in the field of Agriculture. I also wanted to master the basics of the language, so I started learning Spanish before my departure.
So, was your language preparation enough?
Well, I took a course for the basics, I studied hard for this course to have a perfect pronunciation, but after coming here, I noticed the accent was slightly different from the one I learnt. For your interest ‘pera’ (espera) at local restaurants, ‘ta luego’ (hasta luego) at every social occasion, ‘tah bien’ (está bien) at the local football pitch…
But did you feel they improved during your stay?
Yes, obviously. It was an everyday challenge which I missed when I came back to my country. For example, when I needed razor blades at the local supermarket, I searched how to communicate this in Spanish, and so I learnt a lot of vocabulary.
Did you take your classes in Spanish or English?
I enrolled for English classes, and one Spanish course. The Spanish level was too high for me, the local accent in combination with two hour lectures were a mixture which became too difficult for me to finish the course successfully.
Did you have the chance to meet a lot of foreigners/locals?
Yes, I met students from all over the globe. Even beyond Europe’s borders, I am still in touch with a close group of friends I made, and even we have visited each other in different countries, which opened our eyes for each other’s culture. I also met native students, they were very open to help me in finding my way through Almería and the UAL. I am still in touch with some of them too.
What can you say regarding the academic life in the UAL?
It was a bit of a challenge for me to find proper courses and finding out if they were taught in English or Spanish. But the UAL offered me a great learning curve in which study-related knowledge forms only a tiny part.
So, what did you struggle the most with?
Balancing your academic life and the experiences. It was to discipline myself to study during my mobility. You are more focused on experiences, so it can show out some signs of ‘fear of missing out’, but with balance you can keep both, never miss any event and study as hard as you can, because you may learn a lot.
Did you travel a lot?
I joined all the trips with the ESN, and also on my own with friends, I have seen Lisbon, Olula del Río, Cabo de Gata, Tabernas (Almería Western Film Festival), Cartagena, Granada… and plenty of more Spanish cities.
What do you miss the most from Almería?
The culture, the surroundings in combination with the climate, it’s a little paradise on Earth. Regularly going out for dinner with a large group of friends, (I am not used to do so in The Netherlands).
Do you remember any special moment from the experience?
My experience going to the hairdresser (la peluquería). My friend visited this hairdresser before and told me he cuts your hair for only 6 euros, which was surprisingly cheap. I remembered when I entered the shop I saw a man in a Hawaiian outfit speaking Spanish with a very strong influence of Almeriense. The first thing he asked me was if I wanted a cigarette. And so it happened that I smoked a cigarrete, while my hair was cut inside his little shop! Then came to moment I had to pay, and he told me the price was 10 euros. Apparently he included the cigarette service into the price!
Do you feel this mobility program helped you in some way (Academically, personally…)?
That is a hard question, it’s hard to be able to indicate your learnings in your daily life. I think it changed my world view, because the only thing which I would know from some countries, was their location on the world, but the people I met colored this world map in my head.
What do you recommend to future students coming to Almería?
Enjoy your time in Almería, do not forget to learn of Spanish before coming, it will be very useful and will offer you plenty of advantages in order to enjoy the Almeriense life.