Saturday, 17 September 2011

1st few weeks in Murcia

The first few weeks in Murcia have been amazing. I’ve been trying to keep a diary as often as possible so that I can look back on what I did and tell other people about my experiences. Saying goodbye to my friends and family was a strange experience and I was quite sad to be leaving them, but I knew that I was going to love Spain and that I’d be back at Christmas anyway. My mum and dad hired us a car at Alicante airport and we drove from there to our apartment at Los Riquelme Golf Resort, 20 minutes drive from Murcia city centre. Getting there wasn’t easy as it was in the middle of nowhere and we actually ended up in the city centre of Murcia first because we took the wrong road from the word go. The night I arrived I used my UK phone to call some people to organise flat viewings for the next day. I was very nervous to speak for the first time over the phone in Spanish but I’m gradually getting the hang of it. When I tried to buy a mobile that day I was told I needed my passport, so we decided to go the next morning before meeting my friend Alberto who lives near the city centre. He came with us to view three flats, helping me with any translating and guiding us around the city. I was very thankful for the help, as I know that not everyone would have had that kind of help when they first arrive.

To cut a long story short, I decided on the second flat I saw that day, which was great news as it meant we didn’t have to spend any more days searching for flats and we could relax a little bit. The next few days were fairly relaxed. We had a lovely meal in a restaurant at a place called Los Alcazares on the coast of Murcia, giving me the opportunity to practice more Spanish with the waitresses! We also met up with some friends for breakfast (shout out to Juan Antonio and Jose Luis!) and then went with them at night to Cartagena in the south of the region to visit the typical touristic things and then had tapas and ice cream for dinner. The city was beautiful I would highly recommend that you visit it if ever you’re in Murcia. It was also a really good opportunity for me to practice my interpretation skills I received a couple of calls from my friends in Gerona (Adriana), Madrid (Diana) and Valencia (Roger), which I really appreciated as it reassured me that I had some nice people that were just a phone call away if I needed help or just a chat.

Some advice: if you go to another country and buy a foreign phone, make sure that they don’t rip you off with the tariff! I found out that I was paying around €1,38 for calls until my friend Alberto phoned them and managed to get them to change it. Setting up a bank account was also a problem. I went to Santander to set it up and was told that having a passport was no longer enough to set up an account. I was told I should bring them my matriculation documents from Murcia University to prove my reason for being in the country. That proved to be a problem for me a I wasn’t able to matriculate for another few weeks. I advise that you have a Cash Passport (Thomas Cook) that allows you to load money before you go away and allows another person at home to have a copy as well. That person can also load money on to the card, which is good for students who want their parents to send them money J.

For the next four days I stayed in Alberto’s town (Alhama de Murcia), which is a 30-minute train journey from Murcia city centre. The reason for which being that there was not yet any electricity in the flat and if I had stayed in the city I would have been all alone. So I spent 4 nights in a €25 per night hotel and met up with Alberto and his friends every day. I learnt so much Spanish over those few days as I was speaking Spanish pretty much all of the time with his friends and family and their accents were quite difficult to understand. After those 4 days I went back to the flat to find I didn’t have any hot water yet! I had a horrible night’s sleep, as there was no air conditioning either. The next day I walked to the supermarket (36 degrees by the way!) and bought myself a fan. That night I slept better.

I made a few trips to Alberto’s house to stay with him over the first few weeks. I was very glad of having some good company and they really took care of me, stuffing me full of food J. I was even able to share some Scottish ceilidh and traditional music with Alberto and his mum, showing them videos of me playing ceilidh music, and letting them hear Eddi Reader’s version of Auld Lang Syne (which made me feel extremely patriotic!). In exchange, his mum let me hear some typical Spanish music that she likes.

The final highlight is going to see Pablo Alborán (Spanish singer from Malaga) in concert in a park in the city centre. He was amazing and I even knew some of the words to his songs. I got a lot of strange looks from the natives who obviously didn’t expect to see a ‘guiri’ (foreign person) at a Spanish language concert, singing the words as well! I must have been the only foreigner in the place.

In conclusion I’ve been having a great time and I’ve learnt so much already. I’ll post again soon with an Interview in Catalunya! 


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