That’s how Marlena welcomed me at the Huelva bus station on that sunny January afternoon. Marlena is a Spanish friend of my study colleagues from Austria, and she helped me a lot in my first few days in the small Andalucian city. There have also been some WhatsApp groups you could join, in order to get to know people and have an easier start. Right at the beginning I realised that most of the citizens cannot speak English very well, so I would definitely recommend studying some basic Spanish vocabulary before – to not get lost.
Moving into my flat, I was happy to have five super friendly girls from all over Europe as my roommates, who became good friends later on. In the whole house, there were only living Erasmus students and it was located in the city centre and that’s what I really recommend in Huelva. The centre (between Plaza de la Merced and Plaza de las Monjas) is where everything is taking place and most of the students are living and meeting up. Depending on what you study you need to go to Campus El Carmen or Campus de La Merced and both took me about 15-20 minutes with bike or bus – that was fine for me. The Campus El Carmen, where most of the courses for education are held, is very big and in the beginning I was totally lost with all the buildings around. Luckily, you can ask people who are working there, or other students and they are happy to help and show you around. After some time, I really liked the possibilities at the Campus: different study rooms, outdoor classrooms and a lot of cafeterias and shops (Lidl) nearby. During the week I spent most of my days at university, studying and chilling with the other Erasmus students. I liked all the courses and teachers I had, because they were eager to help us and made sure, we can enjoy our time as Erasmus students as well. I mostly had to do assignments during the semester to gain points and only had a few exams in the end. Our maths teacher was not only recommending restaurants and touristic activities for us, but also offered us the possibility to go to a primary school for one day. Due to the fact, this was already my 8th and last semester of my Bachelor, I was not obliged to make an internship during my Erasmus. But I was still motivated to get to know the school system in Spain and this was the perfect way to get some impressions.
Back to the touristic activities, I have to say that Huelva itself is not that exciting. There are some spots and museums where you can dive into the history of Christoph Columbus and visit his ships. We also went bowling and boulder a few times and from Huelva bus station it is just a 20-minute ride to the beach. Therefore, I recommend buying the green card to go to the beach for a few cents – I used it every week! There are a lot of fiestas going on, especially around Easter time (Semana Santa). But if Huelva gets boring, it is definitely the perfect starting point for travelling Spain, Portugal and even Morocco. At the beginning we booked organised trips with “We Love Spain,” for example to Cadiz Carnival or Morocco. But after some time, when our friendships got stronger, we were comfortable to plan trips by ourselves, renting a car or going by Flixbus or train – with cheap prices again!
Through all these travels, activities, and events I got to know so much interesting and special people, who I can call friends now. With them, I learned to be more open and excited for other cultures, languages and appreciate the diversity that exists. This is one benefit I can easily transform to my future job as a teacher and role model. Not only that I made friends from all over Europe, but also, I got to know the Spanish culture and was living the slow Spanish live, with long siestas, lot of fiestas and even more tapas and Sangria! Without my stay abroad I would not have learned a new language so well. While speaking to the locals I had to get out of my comfort zone a few times, but after succeeding I felt very proud and self-confident. Spain, I will definitely come back! 😊
Text: Kathrin Gruber