When this is your campus, no wonder so many people choose to go to school here!
I arrived in Alicante right on schedule and my friend Anselm was waiting to pick me up at the station. I've known Anselm since we were little kids, and he's actually from Germany, but is on exhange to study medicine in Spain for the year, so my visit worked out well. We wound our way through the narrow streets to his apartment, which is in a bright turquoise building near the Mercado, or market. Great location!
Let me explain a little about Alicante. It's a university town, so there's a ton of students there. There's this little program called Erasmus, which is an exchange for European students, and Alicante happens to be a popular destination--there are over 1500 students from other countries here. With the weather and the beaches, it's no wonder. This weekend happened to be their frosh week--I picked a good time to come, eh?
Spaniards tend to live life on a late schedule, which takes some getting used to. Clubs and bars are open until 8 am (yes, you read that right)--in fact, some don't even OPEN until 3--so you go out all night, then come home when the sun rises and sleep til about 2 pm. You wake up, spend the rest of the day at the beach, cook dinner with friends at about 10 pm, and then repeat.
The first night, there was an Erasmus party on the beach, which was really fun; although trying to find your friends in a sea of 1500 foreign exchange students is not as easy as it sounds. Erasmus sounds really great--they take care of EVERYTHING for you on your exchange--where to stay, all your paperwork, language classes if you need them, anything you can think of. North America doesn't have the same resources available (that I know of, at least not when I was applying for my exchange), which is maybe why it's not as popular? Anyways. It's a great deal, and I can see why so many students choose to go on exchange in Europe. After we hung out on the beach for a bit, the party moved to one of the many Erasmus bars in the Barrio, which is the district with all the narrow streets and clubs. It's interesting going out in a smaller city like Alicante, because on the one hand, it still has that European feel with all the old buildings, but then you see the ambulances carting away freshmen that had one too many (or six) and you realize that you are indeed in a university town.
By 3 am, we were ready to dance, so we went to 5 Avenieda (5th Avenue)--they had free sangria and shots every hour on the hour, how could we say no?! We hit the dance floor and had an amazing time--the DJ was on fire with his selection! It's such a nice change from the generic house music that Toronto DJs seem to love...We made it home around 8 am, in time to sleep and do it all over again.
The next afternoon, Anselm and I went up to the castle that overlooks Alicante, which was really great.
Alicantean sunset from the top of the Castilla
We went at sunset, so there was amazing views, and you could see the sun and the moon at the same time! After that, we had some people over to his flat where we made salad and roast chicken, potluck style, and went out in the Barrio, where we ended up at the same club as the night before, but I wasn't complaining.
Me and Anselm sightseeing at the Castilla
Now. It needs to be said that I have not had this much fun going out in YEARS. Why, do you ask? Simple: Spaniards know how to Dance! I mean really dance, not this sleazy, drunken, grab a girl from behind business. I spent the night dancing my best salsa, merengue, and bachata moves with partners that could actually teach me a thing or two--it was great!
REAL Italian Bruschetta
The last night, we went over to Concy, Theresa, and Marie's flat where Concy made spaghetti carbonara and bruscetta for all 12 of us--Italian cooked by an Italian--delicious! We headed home around 12:30 which felt SO EARLY compared to the previous few nights, but it was just perfect.
L-R: Pierpaolo from Italy, Theresa from Germany, Me, Concy from Italy, Laurie-Ann from Paris, and Anselm
I had a great time in Alicante--it was great to kick back and relax into student life one more time, even if only for a few days. I wish I had investigated my exchange options to Spain in my undergrad days--I most certainly would be able to habla Espanol by now! I met some great people on exchange from Italy, France, and Austria, even though the language barrier was difficult to overcome (you just get really good at charades in Spain). Next stop, Barcelona!
Sun and the moon in the same photo--pretty neat!