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This blog was created as part of the Erasmus Mundus Crossways in Cultural Narratives Masters programme, which is the only one of the EU approved and funded Erasmus Mundus Masters programmes to specialise in traditional humanities with a modern languages background. The Crossways Consortium comprises 6 top-class European universities.

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Sunday, 10 April 2011

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA Spain An informal guide by & for Erasmus Mundus students


SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
Spain

An informal guide by & for Erasmus Mundus students

Contributors: Chiara Dalla Libera

March/2011




YOU ARE AT SANTIAGO AIRPORT                  

Here you are. Life as an Erasmus Mundus student always starts in an airport: you have just landed and you are trying to understand what the new city is about by staring at the other people who were with you on the plane. In the case of Santiago you are most likely trying to figure out if the city is inhabited just by priests, nuns and old pilgrims.
Perfect, now that you have collected your 25 bags of 30 kg each you can find your way to the city center! Don’t panic, Santiago airport is a tiny, tiny airport, and it is located 10 km away from the city center.

Remember that Santiago has been training for years in receiving tourists, so you will not be alone!


By bus

Outside the airport building you will find the bus stop.
You can either go with the special buses organized by Ryanair that are usually a little more expensive (around EUR 3), but they are a good option if you are arriving late.
Empresa Freire (http://www.empresafreire.com/html/ingles/seccion0.php) is the local company, and it takes about 20/30 min to take you to the city center, and the ticket is around EUR 2,50.

Just pay attention to the stops:

-San Lazaro (outskirts of Santiago)
-Bus station
-Av. De Lugo (Train station)
-Dr. Teixeiro (City center, new part)

By Taxi

The ride is not really expensive (around EUR 19), and they stop right near the bus stop.
If you are going to the residence Burgo Das Nacions the best option, if you want to save money, is to go by bus to the bus station and then either walk or take a cab (around EUR 3).
The residence is 3 km away from the bus station.

Airports in the area:

Santiago de Compostela  

La Coruña

Vigo

MOVING AROUND



Santiago it is a small city of approximately 93.000 inhabitants and everything is at a walking distance. The city is divided in five main areas and, especially if you are looking for a place to stay, it is important to know where everything is located.

Campus Norte

It is located on the right part of your map. The Philological Faculty (Faculdade de Filoloxia) and the residence Burgo das Nacions are located in this part of town. Next to the residence you can find the office Unidade de Xestion Academica (UXA) where you will need to submit the first documents once arrived. The area is quite poor with bars and supermarkets, but there are some behind the faculty. Behind the faculty there is also the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (EOI). At the EOI you can attend language courses for just EUR 100 per year!


Campus Sur

The Campus Sur is on the left part of your map, and it is where almost all the faculties are located. Here you can find all the services that a university student may need and also the biggest library of the University.You most likely will not need to come here to do any paperwork, but if this is the case the main office is located at Pavillon Estudantil:

Campus Universitario Sur
15782 Santiago de Compostela
Phone: +34 981 528067 – 981563100 Ext. 14574 e 14575 

Zona Nueva

It is the new part of Santiago, where the houses were built quite recently and where you can find all shops and facilities. It is not the prettiest part, but if you don’t want to starve or your jumper has a hole and you need a new one… You have to come here!!
If you are a true creature of the night you may become familiar with this part of town just starting from 4:00 am. In fact all the discos are located in the new part and every night, when bars in the old part close (4:00/4:30am), there is the migration of the lost souls of the night that just cannot accept to put an end to their party. Here discos close at 06:00/06:30 and then you can either continue at some after-party places or get something to eat.

Casco viejo

The magic and enchantment of this town is all here. As a tourist you can find all you need: any kind of merchandising of Galicia or Spain (shall I buy the statue of Santiago apostle or the T-shirt of the Barcelona Football club..mmm..), if you have a sweet-tooth you can try a piece of the Tarta de Santiago that will be offered to you every 2 meters and many more!
Despite the tourists, you’ll soon discover that this is where the social life actually takes place and you will lose the count of how many times you will say:
 “Ok, let’s meet in Plaza Cervantes for a beer/ coffee / tea / cinema / a walk / shopping / tapas / dinner / fourth round of beer / una caña, por favor /no more beer please, orange juice please / licor cafe / un vinito...”.
San Pedro and Bonaval Park

This part of town between Porta do Camiño and Area Central (the biggest shopping center of Santiago...Beware, is also the saddest commercial center ever built...). This area is 5 min walking from the old part and is about 20/25 min from the campus North: it has the enchantment of the old part, but with more facilities.

I NEED A HOME    



Get used to it: it will be your hobby between one book and the other!! Some additional subjects to the Erasmus Mundus Master are: Live like a Gypsy, Weight your suitcase with your eyes, Pack 25 kg of stuff in a 50x50 bag and many more!
Also in Santiago works the usual way of leaving adverts in the bacheche of the faculties, but best way to find a place to stay is the website of the university: 


During the week the website is daily updated (during the weekends you can forget about your research, no one cares that you are still homeless!) you can look up at the website before arriving to Santiago, but it’s not hard to find a place.
As previously explained each part of town has its features and your final choice depends on what you want from Santiago! A more detailed chart follows:

Where to live

I study, what else? I study! - Campus Norte

You are near the University and the library and you have the essential shops you may need. In case you decide to have some social life the center is just 15 min away.

Cold feet - New Part

If you can’t live in a flat without central heating you may want to look for a room in this area, as in the old part it is quite hard to find a flat that has one. You also like having all kinds of shops in front of your door. Old town is 5/10 min away, but Campus Norte is 35/45 min away!

Romantic - Old Part

You like sunsets and you cry when you see the first Christmas light in December or the first flower when the spring arrives. You think that the view from your room is more important than going to sleep with your tuta da sci.
You may find some problems in finding a supermarket and in going to sleep at 23h. 
Campus North 15 min. New part 10 min.

Alternative - San Pedro
You like having a nice garden (Bonaval), you are lazy (you don’t need to walk more than 20 min to go anywhere), you are a bit like the type described previously.
Every time you go to the center you are walking the last part of the camino de Santiago… smart ass!!!! 

Prices

Prices go from EUR 120/150 for a room in a shared flat in the old part and in San Pedro to a range of EUR 180/220 in the new part. These prices do not include bills. If you pay more than that you probably living in a 5 stars hotel!!

Burgos Das Nacions



Avda. Burgo das Nacions.
15782 Santiago de Compostela.
A Coruña (España)
Phone: 981 547 152 

It may be good if you are not staying long and if you want to focus on your studies.
The rooms are quite nice and properly clean, you have your private bathroom and you share the kitchen with the people from your floor. Unfortunately Mundus students (even if you have a scholarship) get to pay around EUR 300 rent per month, which is quite expensive, considering the cost of a single room in a shared flat in town!

SPANISH TIME 



It takes some time, but you will soon love it, I’m sure! Classes never start before 10:00 and finish at 19.30 the latest.Shops are open between 10 and 20:00 and close between 14:00 and 16:00/30. However, especially in the new part, some don’t close at lunch and are open until later (e.g. supermarkets).

A couple of remarkable details:

“I’ll meet you at midday!” means “I’ll meet you at 14:00” (Lunch time)
“Come to my place to have dinner!” means “Come to my place around 22:00, but that does not mean that it’ll be ready by that time…Anyway, bring a bottle of wine/beer”

In my experience people are not late: they schedule meetings late enough in order for them not to be late.

MIX WITH THE OTHER TOURISTS



Oficina de turismo de Santiago (Rua do Vilar 63) and Oficina de turismo de Galicia (Rua do Vilar 43) are the places where you can gather all the information you need and where you can collect a precious map and some cultural leaflets. I’ll skip the historical and artistic comments, as you would get a real guide for that, and you would not trust me (or Wikipedia, remember you are a Master student now!) Santiago is not that big, and I will let you discover the town by yourselves, but there is a place I would like to recommend: Igrexa do convento de San Martiño Pinario… Enjoy!

I ACTUALLY CAME HERE TO STUDY



You are sitting at a table outside in one little square with a couple of friends, a glass of Albariño, some jamon, queso de Arzua, a piece of tortilla and some croquetas and then, it suddenly hits you! 

“I am sure I came to Santiago to do something…”
“But what??”
“Mmmm... I can’t remember... Was it because of the pilgrimage?!”
“No, I arrived by plane…”
“Why? Why did I come here??”
“Damn it!!Erasmus Mundus Master!!!!”

You may not understand this monologue if you have just arrived, but you will soon learn that Santiago’s social rhythm will take over your will to dedicate your life to studying. As I said before, all your classes and all the bureaucracy will be in the Faculdade de Filoloxia in the Campus Norte. Antonio Gil is the head director of the Erasmus Mundus in Santiago and you will mainly deal with him and with the professor that will be assigned to you to direct your dissertation. The fact that you will deal mainly with them is purely because as soon as you put your foot outside the Philological faculty no one has a clue of what Erasmus Mundus is. So, please get used to explain to each functionary of the University who you are and why you are there. It is a training of self-confidence: you will have to repeat it so many times that you will become very proud of what you are doing, and you will think that you are a misunderstood genius.


LIBRARIES

The libraries and the whole University system works quite well. You can do the card for the library directly at the Biblioteca de Filoloxia, and as a Master student you can bring home more books. 


Biblioteca de Filoloxia and de Periodismo

If you need a lot of books you may find it more handy to spend your days in the Biblioteca de Filoloxia (our faculty!): the environment is not the cheerfullest you can find, but the choice of books is quite wide. On the other hand, if you are looking for a place with more light and more privacy, you can go to the Faculdade de Periodismo (Faculty of Journalism), which is the faculty next door designed by the famous Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza.

Biblioteca de Historia y Xeografia

If you want to fight for a place to sit, but you want to feel like Harry Potter…this is your spot! Bring your camera at least once!

Biblioteca del Campus Sur

(Rua de Jose Maria Suarez Nuñez) This is the biggest library in the Campus Sur, and during exams period it is open on Sundays and late at night.

Biblioteca Caja Madrid

(http://bibliotecas.obrasocialcajamadrid.es/biblio-adulto/662_97011.htm?centro=3271) It is a small library in the old city center and to have access to the library you just need to do a card with them (for free). The location is great (Rua Das Casas Reais 14), they have daily newspapers, DVDs and books of any kind that you can request from any of their libraries throughout the whole country. 

GALICIANS PARTY HARD



Don’t be fooled by the fact that Santiago is such a popular tourist destination: all the bars you see are to satisfy the social appetite of the Compostelanos! If you consider the size of this town, you will be impressed by the number and the variety of choice of the places to go out. On my side, in order not to lose all the (little) respect that you, Erasmus Mundus reader, had in me, I decided to chose just three examples for each category and not to pull out further than this paragraph.

Coffee places

Camalea: Plaza San Martiño Pinario. Cosy coffee place: try the selections of teas with different liquors, really tasty!
Costa Velha: Rua Porta da Pena 17. Amazing view and romantic garden: please, find a boyfriend/girlfriend to come here.
Cafe Conga: Rua da Conga. When you order a coffee, you will get small brioches for tapas. Nice stop when you are studying.

Have a beer

Casa da Troia: Rua da Troia. Nice place to have a glass of wine and watch the people passing by.
Caballo Blanco: Praza Pescaderia Velha 5. Great tapas, big portions... croquetas!croquetas!croquetas! If you don't like garlic stay away from the chips!!!
Reixa: Rua Tras Salome 3. Rock'n'Roll, baby!!!

Eat out

Dezaseis: Rua de San Pedro 16. Pulpo a la gallega, Chochos en tinta, Empanada… It is better to go with a group and order one of the menus with different selections.
A Orella: Rua Raiña 21. Calamares fritos, orella de porco (if you can!), caldo gallego…
La Bodeguilla de San Roque: Rua de San Roque 13. A bit of everything from the Galician's cousin.

Discos

Ruta: Rua de Perez Constanti 66. 

Indie-rock lovers here you will find your shelter for the nights out. If you arrive early enough (4.30/5 am) you will have a chance that DJ plays the song you requested him. 

Avante: near Canton de San Bieito.

The same CD plays every night, but thanks to the “interesting” people who hang out at this place it is always a new experience. Get ready to sing along with the songs from the left parties of all Europe.

Anubis: no address. I mean, of course it has an address, but I don't remember how I got there. This is an after-party place and you will come here starting from 7:00am, I think this explains the place itself.  

ENXEBRE COMPOSTELA (= MEET THE REAL COMPOSTELA)

In Galicia there are two official languages Spanish and Galician. You can write your papers and speak to almost everyone in Spanish, but with time you will find easier to understand Galician. Some professors at the University will choose to have their classes in Gallego: this will surely create several discussions and there is no way to avoid it. The understanding of Gallego is easier if you speak Portuguese, if you are Italian, or you are very fluent in Spanish.

Some of the specialities of this land are:

Empanada (a pastry filled with meat/tuna/seafood)
Pulpo a la gallega (octopus with paprika)
Caldo a la gallega (soup with potatos and turnip tops)

Drinks:

Licor Cafe 
Crema de Orujo (like Bailey’s)
Licor de Hierbas 
Queimada (a punch od liquor with coffee beans, lemon peel and sugar)

GALICIA, A LAND TO DISCOVER



Praia das Catedrais, Galiza

The best way to travel around is by car, as the main features of this corner of Spain are naturalistic and not very well connected.

Some suggestions:

Praia das Catedrais (Barreiros)
Canons do Sil (Ribeira Sacra, Ourense)
Islas Cies (Vigo)
Dunas de Corrubedo y Lagos de Carregal y Vixan (A Coruña)
Finisterre 

If you can travel just by bus or train, then it is easier to visit the cities:

A Coruña
Ourense (go to the therms!)
Lugo
Pontevedra
Vigo 

By bus: www.alsa.es
By train: www.renfe.com

SOCIAL EVENTS


Film festivals 

Arab film Festival Amal: http://www.festivalamal.es/

GOODBYE SANTIAGO! 



“As cousas non valen polo tempo que duran, senon pelas pegadas que deixan”

Life as an Erasmus Mundus student may be hard sometimes, and you need to be strong to arrive to the end, but it is an amazing, once in a lifetime experience that will change you and that you need to enjoy until the last bit! However if you chose to spend at least one semester in this little town in the North-West of Spain, you will understand its magic, and you will fall in love as I did!

Good luck!

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