It’s been less than a month of living in Spain and my wallet is already feeling a bit too light. The region of Andalusia (where Granada is located) is statistically poorer than the rest of the country, thus making it easier to find things for cheap—and even easier to spend all your money. Now, as a college student running off the cash from my summer camp counseling job, I was thrilled to find that things wouldn’t be as expensive. But then I remembered that the Euro to US Dollar exchange rate exists; and then I remembered the bus to school costs money; and then I remembered that I like to eat snacks; and it costs money to get into museums, and then, and then, and then…
So, the point is, spending money is easy when you’re out on the town having a good time. But there’s a way to do it responsibly—and since I’m so nice, I’ll give y’all some pointers so you can be more prepared than I was.
First of all, people in Europe dress nice. All the time. What you might wear on a special occasion, or to a family function, they’re wearing that every day. This doesn’t mean that people don’t have individual style, or that you won’t see people wearing sweats and leggings—they’ll just be wearing them exclusively to the gym. Why am I bringing this up? Well if you’re like me you don’t dress to the nines everytime you go to class, especially not after a pandemic where I know half of us took class in pajamas. So, when it came time to pack, I only brought a handful of nicer clothes thinking I would just wear them for nights out. I unfortunately thought wrong, and would just like to personally shout out the Sierra Nevada shopping mall for saving my closet. It did not save me money though. Moral of the story, pack your best, or be ready to do some shopping.
Secondly, the food here is incredible and you will want to try all the snacks. Just remember that food costs money. I was lucky enough to be randomly placed in a residence hall that provides us meals seven days a week; meanwhile I have friends who weren’t so fortunate and have to buy meals on the weekends (something that’s rather difficult when everything’s closed on Sundays, but that’s a whole different story). The point is, think twice before you go out for ice cream every night or buy that extra empanada. Now that doesn’t mean don’t eat anything or don’t try new food, just maybe go for the €0.90 baguette instead of the €3.50 chocolate chip cookie.
Next, there are free clubs. Go to them! As someone who loves to go dancing and who loves meeting and interacting with locals, I’m always down to go for a night out. I also know it’s fun to try new places, or go somewhere fancy for a friend’s birthday, but some of those nicer ‘discotecas’ can start to get expensive. So what do you do? Well, you have a few options. Option A: just don't go out. It’s okay to take a rest day, and resting is free. Option B: go to a place that has no entry fee. Yes I know, kinda shocking, but they do exist and they are still a great time. Option C: network like a freshly graduated college student on LinkedIn—a.k.a. become friends with everyone! The bouncers, the DJ, the owner, the bartenders. Get in with all of them and then, thanks to your powers of finesse, you're inside free of charge. Plus that’s also a great way to become part of the community, and (for some of y’all) practice your foreign language.
Finally, when you can, walk. Public transportation is great, but taking the bus four times a week, or taxi-ing just cause you’re tired starts to add up. Of course, walking is free; and not only is it a great way to save money, but a great way to explore your city. Particularly in Granada, people walk everywhere, and it’s definitely helped me get my bearings and really feel like I know the neighborhood. Not to mention it has kept me in shape, because trust me some of those hills near the Alhambra get steep!
I know that after working hard all summer money in the bank starts to burn a hole in your pocket, and with so many new things to try, it’s easy to just throw cash around. To a degree, go for it because it’s part of learning how to be an adult in a new city. However, let’s not go broke before we even make it halfway through the semester, okay? I’ve definitely been learning the hard way that money goes fast, but that’s not to say that I regret spending it. I just gotta remember to be more conscious of my funds, and honestly, writing this article helped put things in perspective—I hope it does the same for you!
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<p>Hey Y'all! My name is Katie and I am so excited to be studying in Granada, Spain this fall! I go to Occidental College in Los Angeles and am a psychology major with a double minor in linguistics and journalism. I am very active in my school's dance community and have choreographed twice for our all-school showcase called Dance Production. As a dancer, I can't wait to learn more about Flamenco and explore new music from the area. I love going on long walks, trying out new foods, and I'm very much a movie nerd. I'm looking forward to sharing my adventures with you, and hope you enjoy reading along with me!</p>