“¡Vamos a jugar en el sol! ¡Todos los días son días de fiesta! (Let’s play in the sun! Every day is a party day!)” – “Vamos a jugar en el sol” by Miranda.
For those who are/fancy going to Barcelona for an academic exchange programme, this is perhaps what you are going to do (almost everyday)! ;-)
Anyway, prior to your Barcelona bound, I’m sure there are a fair number of items on your pre-departure to-do list. In this “A student guide” series, I’m going to talk briefly about some of them, and to provide you with examples from my experience, as well as with selected tips from official student guides.
1. I’m looking for accommodation
Not all universities in Barcelona offer their own private halls of residence. What they usually do is to allocate students to various interuniversity halls, of which the majority is operated by Resa Housing. Resa’s properties are located very close to campuses of different universities, where en-suite studios and catered rooms (single & double) are available.
Alternatively, you might want to consider rooms run by Melon District and Residencia Onix. Walkable distance from their residence buildings to universities is guaranteed. Apart from them, you can check the following sites out for a wider range of types of rooms and for comparison:
- Barcelona Resident
- San Marius
- Reina de la Pau
- Housing Everywhere
- Herzegovina (female halls only; in Spanish)
- Residencias Estudiantes Barcelona (in Spanish)
Reserving a room from these private providers might save you a bit of faff time and make your life easier. However, one might want to find somewhere that is more affordable to live in. In this case, I recommend that you should pick the option of shared flats.
When I arrived in Barcelona, I stayed at a hostel for around two weeks so that I could take my time and pick the best place after days of flat hunting. The websites I visited for ads browsing were Craigslist Barcelona (in Spanish/Catalan/English) and Loquo (mainly in Spanish). All you have to do is to send the landlord/representative an email (quoting the ad number) or phone them directly (you might need to talk to them in Spanish!), in order to arrange an appointment for a site visit. Don’t forget to send them a thank you note afterwards, and reply to them as soon as possible your decision! :-)
Here are some important questions to ask/info to mention prior to an appointment:
- Any heater available? (Winter in Barcelona is fairly chilly!)
- Any washing machine at home? (Otherwise, you’ll have to go to a launderette somewhere in your neighbourhood… Faff-alert!)
- Exterior/Interior room? (Exterior rooms are usually brighter and with better ventilation, as they are either facing the streets or a very spacious patio; meanwhile, interior ones are usually damper and darker with no/small windows. Very often, there’s no view at all!)
- (If utility bills are not included) Expected monthly bills? (Try to look for somewhere with water, electricity, gas, and Wi-Fi included!)
- Provide with them a short description of yourself. For instance, your nationality, your school, your major studies, your habits (e.g. Do you smoke? Do you party a lot? Are you a nighter?), etc.
Barcelona is a multilingual metropolis. However, you might need to talk with your potential landlord/flatmate(s) in Spanish (or in Catalan, if you know the language), as not everyone in the city masters considerable English proficiency. Let’s give love. Respect the people, the culture, and, of course, the place you’re going to live in!
Next time, I’ll talk about the identification number for foreigners – NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero). Stay tuned!