Congratulations! You have been lucky enough to get to the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. We know that these big changes in your life aren´t always easy and that you are bound to have a million doubts and questions, but don´t worry. The Univeristy of Santiago is known as home to more than 30,000 students and is one of the cities in Spain which recieves the most Erasmus students. Santiago is so much more than just a city it is party central, a cultural landmark, characterised by its green plains and of course here you have the opportunity to travel to many different corners of the world.
We recommend that you check out an erasmus student organisation called Sharingalicia. Being a part of this organisation will make your time in this city so much better!
However, back to the point. Throughout this article you will find many different pieces of advice about the city and everything that you should know, as a foregin student, before arriving here.
Share a flat with other students.
Although USC (University of Santiago) offers many different student residences which you can chose to stay in, among the students it is very popular to share a rented flat with galicians or other international students. Santiago is a small city but there are lots of student flats, therefore you will not have a problem finding one if you arrive either in September or January.
But, what is the best zone to live in?
As we have said before, although Santiago is a small city you can walk from zone to zone in no more than half an hour. However there are 3 main zones were all of the student flats are located, therefore these are the areas in which you should look for your flat.
- The New Town (zona nova): Santiago de Chile, Ramón Cabanillas, Doutor Teixeiro, Rosalía de Castro, República Arxentina… Do any of them sound familair? In only a few weeks you will get to know all of these areas as they are the roads (rúas) on which you will find the majority of student flats. For those of you who are studying at the Southern Campus(Law, Poltical Scienes, Biology, Maths…) this area is perfect, as it is only a 10 minuet walk form the campus. What´s more this is the zone in which you will find many clubs, bars, cafes and clothes shops, and even better, you will be able to get to the old town in just 5 minuets.
- The Old Town (zona vella): this is the oldest zone of the city… obviously! Here you will find the famous cathedral and many other old buildings full of character. Ironically the faculties of History, Geography, Philosophy and Medicine are located here. Once again you will also find many bars, clubs and other hidden gems that you will discover over time, in this area.
- The Northern Campus: if you study Economics, Thelogy, Nursing or Buisness and you don´t fancy walking half an hor every day to get to class, this is the perfect place to live. It is a bit further out from the centre, however this also means that the flats are a bit cheaper!
Enjoy the Galician Gastronomy
The north of Spain is famous for its food! You cannot finish your Erasmus without having tried pulpo a feira, empanada de zamburiñas ir lacón con grelos. Galician is als known for its huge varity of shellfish: muscles barnacles, crab… Try not to go to tourist traps (such as the resturants on rúa do Franco), as the food will not be good and it will be very expensive. If you want to try all of this and more you should go to Fogar do Santiso, a very cheap restuarant on the outskirts of Santiago, where they prepare home cooked galician food with ingredients from their own garden.
Do you fancy more popular and well-know spanish food? In that case go to Casa de las Tortillas (Travesía de Cacheiras, 36. Teo) and La Tita (rúa Nova, 46), in both of these places you will have the best tortilla in the city! You can also try other dishes in these restaurants: pimientos de padrón, corquetes, patatas bravas and fried calamari. If you have a sweet tooth, you need to try the typcial desert here in Santiago, las Filloas (similar to crepes), Tarta de Santiafo or Orejas de Carnaval! Oh, and you NEED to try licor café!
Try Galician Estrella.
There is nothing that Galicians are more proud of that their beer. Estrella Galicia has won various international prizes and many experts say that it is one, if not the, best spanish beer. This and its sisters: 1906 and Red Vintage are the official beers of Santiago, therefore you will find all three of them in any bar or restaurant in the city. There are people that take a while to get used to the taste, but believe me, once you´ve tried it you will never go back!
Many bars will serve free tapas with your beer, this is a spansih tradition! Galician students are experts and know exactly where to go to get the best (and most) free tapas. Below is a list of a few we would recommend:
- Gambrinus (Fray Rosendo Salvado, 13)
- O Cabalo Branco (Praza da Pescadería Vella, 5)
- Agarimo (Rúa do Preguntoiro, 2)
- El 10 (Rúa Nova de Abaixo, 10)
- Abrente (San Pedro de Mezonzo, 46)
- City (Ramón Cabanillas, 4)
Make every night count!
After a lot of tapas and beers you only have one more step to take: a night out in Santiago. Thursday Students days are not a myth, but you can also go out on a monday, tuesday and wednesday! It might be a bit strange but the weekends are the least busy days in the city, and students tend to go back home to see their families.
You have various different options when and if you want to go out. There are bars and clubs that will suit everyones needs. It being you night by having a few beers we suggest you go to a cheap bar in the old town, such as O Pozo (ría das Ánimas, 1) or A Novena Porta (rúa do Cardel Payá, 3); también el Central Perk (rúa Nova de Abaixo, 9) in the new town. If you like to dance but don´t like commercial music, you should go to Albaroque (Acibechería, 12) or Tarasca (Entremuros, 5). A very famus bar among students is Avante and this can be located in the old town (Cantón de San Bieito, 4). This is a pub with a very nationalist atmosphere where they play galician folk musc (make sure you don´t go here with a spanish flag, or anything similar, it might not go down too well!)
For those of you who love clubs and reggaeton you have two choices, either the Old Town: Século IX (San Paio de Antealtares, 29), Quintana (Praza da Quintana, 1) or Retablo (rúa Nova, 13); or alternatively the New Town: Apolo (Santiago del Estero, 8) or Blaster (República Arxentina, 6).
To finish you night…you are going to want some food right? In the new town there are many different 24 hour shops where students go to buy sandwiches at 5am! The most famous of the bunch are O de Sempre (Ramón Cabanillas, 16) and RK2 (República Arxentine, 42). What is a Gloria? This is the best sandwhich of them all, full of ham and cheese…heated up! It is the best thing you will ever taste after a night out.
For the drunkest amougst you: we recommend doing the París-Dakar, this is a bar crawl which hardly anyone can finish! Will you dare to try it?
Complete the Camino de Santiago
For the most absent-minded of you, the Camino de Santiago is a pilgramage route that ends at the Cathedral, where the relics of the apostle Santiago el Mayor are located. Thusands of people from across Europe and the world complete this pilgramage every year and have been doing so since the middle ages due to many different motives: leisure, sport, relgious. 77% of the pilgrims walk this route, but you can also do it on horseback or by bike.
Where can you begin? There are many different routes all over Spain, Portugal, France and even Germany and Italy. The most famous routes are located in the north (that start in Bayone and border with the cantabirc coast), the french (which enters france through Roncesvalles) and the portuguese (this is the perfered route among Galicians).
If you wanted t end up at the Cathedral of Santiago to prove that you have sucessfully completed the journey, you must hae travelled at least 100 km walking, or 200 if you are on bikem before arriving in Santiago. If everything is in order you will recieve the Compostela, which is a certificate and a very special shell, which will prove you have completed the route.
The majority of people describe this experience as hard but unique and unfortgettable. If you have any questions or queries you can find more information about this pilgramage here.
Travel as much as you can!
There are thousands of hidden corners in Spain that are waiting to be discovered: from the green coasts of the north, passing through the great cities of Madrid and Barcelona. What´s more the region of Galicia has the luck of sharing a boarder with Portugal, another country full of culture and incredible food!
If you want to get to know new people from different countries and travel together you should pay a visit to Sharing Galicia. This is an Erasmus association formed by a group of galician volunteers and foreginers, all of whom dedicate their time to organising events, parties and trips for Erasmus students who are interested in practising languages and getting to know other cultures.
There most popular trips offered by Sharing Galicia include:
- Portugal: Lisbon and Oporto
- North of Spain: Santander, Oviedo, Gijón…
- Andalucia: Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba…
- and thousands of exursions in and around Galicia to the beaches, Cathedrals, the Cíes Islands and the thermal baths of Ourense…
Fall in love with a Galician
Galicians are ´curriños´. This is a word that you will heard a lot in Santiago. In case you didn´t know this, Galicians speak in a different language to traditional Spanish: the speak Galician. You may not understand it at first but little by little you will begin to pick it up and learn new words. At USC you can have classes to learn it and it is very easy! All Galicians, although they do not speak it daily, use many words that do belong to this language: reseso, orballo, colo, toxo, lamber, xouba, … Here are some more in case you want to be ready when you arrive.
There are many stereotypical characteistics about Galicians: they are distrustful people, who are distant, undecided … If one thing is certain, they are always homesick, I’m not kidding. They invented the word morriña, that is, “a feeling of sadness that is felt to be far from their homeland.” But it is not surprising: the green landscapes, the high and low estuaries, the meigas, the fiestas, the rain … We are sure that one day you will also miss all this, because … once Erasmus, forever Erasmus.