By Craig Maloney
When you think of taking a year to study in another country, the south of Spain probably isn’t hovering at the very top of your wish list, but Andalucía has a lot more to offer than it may first seem.
Andalucía itself is huge, heavily steeped in its cultural roots and very few Brits are to be found inside its walls. They’re all staggering around in some of the coastal regions during the summer—places like Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Calahonda—probably being followed around by camera crews filming any number of trashy 18-30 reality TV shows.
A lot of work has been done to the city in the past 10 years and it now looks magnificent—restoration rather than renovation. As you walk through the cobbled side streets of Malaga, what first hits you is the overwhelming charm of rustic buildings and their eccentric design. The cathedral area is truly breath-taking and must be seen to be believed. It couldn’t be more Spanish, no English breakfasts in sight!
This is a city where the party is just beginning as the sun rises. Bar Urbano is a lively, buzzing little jaunt where you’ll be able to get any shot of liquor you can think of at dirt cheap prices. Wandering around Malaga, you’ll be taken aback at just how vibrant the place is at night. The Spanish generally eat late and meet up for a night out well past midnight. They also enjoy going out for walks, especially in the evening when it’s cooler so don’t be too surprised to be seeing pensioners mixing with young people, laughing and chatting over a few drinks. The lifestyle here is the epitome of ‘laid back’.
Studying and working in Andalucía
University accommodation is good value and affordable. Many students that work alongside their studies find employment in bars and restaurants due to the flexibility. Alternatives to uni dorms are the nearby hotels and hostels. Hotel Carlos V stands out as being one of the most affordable in town and is right next to the cathedral.
Teaching, tourism and telemarketing—the three Ts—seem to be the main areas of work here. Unemployment is rife in the region however, so competition for every job is extremely fierce. The Sur in English is just one of many publications you’ll find job listings aimed at expatriates.
The Arab baths in the Al Andalus area is a great place to relax with friends, as well as the many welcoming tea shops nearby. In fact, there the area is crammed with visual reminders of its history. The remains of the Castle of Gibralfarao and the Alcazaba are from when the Arabs ruled Spain in the early half of the 11th century. Adjacent to the latter in fact, are the ruins of the Roman Theater and the market still has the old main entrance to the city intact. Even if you’re not a huge history buff and just a Lord of the Rings fan boy, this place gives Mordor a run for its money.
El Pimpi is one of the oldest bars in Malaga where you can drink ‘Malaga Dulce’, a traditional sweet sherry of the area. Inside is a lot like being outside, with garden drapes and plants hanging everywhere. There are old advertising posters, wine barrels stacked upon one another and beautiful views of the plaza. The décor has a slight modernist feel to it as, being right down the street from the famous Picasso Museum; it’s a solid ode to Malaga’s most famous son.