Hi my name’s Mike, I’m 20 years old from the Wirral, near Liverpool, I study Spanish and Portuguese at Edinburgh and my Erasmus exchange places are in Malaga and in Coimbra, so I’m going to write a bit about what I’m up to. Hope you enjoy it.
So this post will deal with first impressions and accommodation. Malaga is a beautiful city but it’s growing very quickly. As a result there’s huge amount of works going on, they’re building a metro system in the part of town I’m in at the moment, and there are building sites everywhere. This can make it difficult to navigate the city if there are diversions that aren’t on maps. The traffic is also pretty mental. Pedestrian crossings are on every corner but just because Senor Verde makes an appearance doesn’t mean you won’t get run over. Many crossings seem to be a cross (no pun intended) between pelican crossings and zebra crossings. They’re supposed to stop, but sometimes they don’t. Most streets are filled with shops and little bars. They’re not like bars in Edinburgh though, more like greasy spoons that happen to sell alcohol and tapas with garden furniture galore. It’s different, and although I’ve only been here 2 days, I’m starting to like it.
So what are the beaches like, I hear you cry. Honestly, I’ve no idea, I haven’t been. I can’t stand beaches. Neither have I been to the centre but that’s just because I’ve been busy trying to get things sorted. The things I need as soon as possible is a mobile and a bank account. The mobile was easy enough, I just went into a mobile shop called Movistar (like O2, they also have Vodafone and Orange here – although I hear the reception for Orange is terrible) and asked for “un movil prepagado barato” and the woman went into the back and came out with a rubbish motorola with a sim card and 10EU credit which cost me 29 euros.
The bank account is a little more difficult. My plan was to open a bank account on the first day, transfer a load of money across from home and that’d be that. So I added my mum as a third party on my student account in case I couldn’t do international transfers online, and did a bit of research online with little success. My uncle who travels a lot said he recommended a card called Abbey Zero, but when I looked, it was a credit card, which I don’t want. That said, credit card purchases are insured so it may be worth it. The first problem with opening a bank account here is that there are a million and one different banks, and apparently they charge you to take your money out of a cash machine that isn’t theirs. Someone I know recommended either CajaSur or La Caixa, but I’m yet to go in and ask. The second annoying thing is that you need an identity number, called a NIE, even if you’re not a Spanish citizen. Some research online told me that it would take me 10 days to get it, but it didn’t at all, I did it in about an hour. I took my passport to the police station where they had a ‘foreigners’ section, and I just went and asked for one. They gave me a form to fill in, and then sent me around to a bank called Unicaja to pay the 10 euro fee. The guy in the bank stamped it and then I took that back to the police station and they gave me a number almost immediately. The form asks for an address which I don’t have yet, but it’s not important. When I explained, the woman on the desk actually put a fake address on the form for me and told me not to worry about it :/. Anyway the bank account’s still pending.
Next up, accommodation. Before I came here I found a few sites, one called easypiso.com and another called compartepiso.com. These were ok but I’ve now realised I was wasting my time. After getting here some people in my hostel who are also on Erasmus directed me to some other websites which are much better and are updated daily. These are (and I think some of them apply to other cities too):
They’re good, but again not so necessary. All I had to do was walk around campus for half an hour and I saw loads of adverts with numbers. I called one of them that sounded good, went to see the flat first thing the next morning, and although I am going to see a couple of others, I intend to take it. Very easy.
Anyway I think this is long enough. Closing thought: the supermarkets here are crap.