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Erasmus in Ciudad Real

Why did I decide to go to Ciudad Real, Spain?

I was looking for a department that would offer the same course as my university in Italy, in a not too large or overly chaotic city. Ciudad Real offered the right balance.

What is the student environment like in Ciudad Real?

The student environment is highly stimulating and inclusive. My classmates were, from the beginning, very on-hand when it came to helping me out with lessons, notes, and it wasn't at all difficult to integrate.

Within the city is the ESN association. It is very proactive in terms of organising all kinds of events and trips. Signing up is an absolute must, otherwise there is not much else to do.

Would you recommend the city and University of Ciudad Real to other students?

At first sight, the city seemed a bit small and not very striking, especially for all the Italians for whom universities are normally in rather large and prestigious cities. In spite of this, I definitely recommend the city. It is perfectly tailored for students. A 15-minute walk will take you to any part of the city, and there is a bus service which also provides connections to areas that are further away. The central area also allows you to get around easily, so you can get to any part of Spain in about 3 hours by car.

What is the local cuisine like?

Like in all of Spain, the typical cuisine is Tapas, but unlike other parts of Andalusia, if you order a drink it will automatically be included in the price for the food.

The prices are roughly between 1.70 and 2.10 euros, and this is for a rather sizeable dish. Two pieces of tapas are enough for a meal.

The classic tapas are not very well known in the city, as they aren't very appealing. Las migas and el Chorizo are best as an accompaniment to an exquisite Valdepenas Wine.

Was it difficult to find somewhere to stay in Ciudad Real?

Definitely not. The ESN association and the Office for International Relations (ORI) offers to help the students in all possible ways. All you need to do is go to them, explain your requirements and, if you do not speak good Spanish, they themselves will help you in your research and in the contract.

I do recommend you look for a flat in a more central part of the city, rather than near the University.

How much does it cost to live in Ciudad Real?

The rent is on average between 120 and 140 euros a month, but that's not including the cost of electricity (10/15 euros a month), heating (20/25 euros a month) and internet (10 euros a month). But a lot of it depends on the type of house you find. It's generally central heating, meaning it is directly managed in the apartment block, and it is very common to find induction cookers in the kitchen. These often add to the electricity bill, but only slightly. Otherwise you may find gas cylinders.

The cost of living is, on average, low. On a weekly basis you spend between 20 and 25 euros on food, and the nightclubs all have free entry with no obligation to buy food or drinks. It is in fact often worth buying your own consumables before the night begins.

How did it go as regards the language? Did you attend a university course?

When I went, I didn't actually know Spanish at all. In the faculties, the professors were very willing to speak more slowly the first few weeks and provide clarifications in English for the first few lessons. The university offers an intensive Spanish course with an initial entrance test and final exam, costing 100 euros. Very handy.

In the city they speak Castilian Spanish; that is, standard Spanish without any dialectal influence or unusual accents. It is very easy to understand.

What is the cheapest way of getting to Ciudad Real from your city?

A plane to Madrid or Valencia. It depends on where you leave from. After that, you take an AVE train to Ciudad Real. Otherwise you can use BlaBlaCar, which is much cheaper and still safe.

Where do you recommend people go in the evenings in Ciudad Real?

Ikebana, Blanco and Antigua Estacion are the nightclubs in the city. Wasifore and Living Room bar are very cheap and have board games, darts and a real family-feel to them. Teteria is nice for a quiet afternoon with friends and tea.

And as for eating in Ciudad Real? Which places were your favourite?

In Plaza Mayor you can find the Portalon and the Aquario, the most famous places to eat and the very first you have to try. In the Torreon area you can find La Isla de Cuba, El Alcazar (try the burger with egg) and next door is El Faro. But also any bar that's cheap and has good tapas is fine.

And some places of cultural interest to see?

The city doesn't have a lot of history to see, just some remnants of the old wall with Porta Toledo. Ciudad Real is the city of Don Chiscotte, and so everything is connected to him and Cervantes: in Plaza Mayor you can find the famous clock which, at 12.00 and 18.00 plays a manchega typical and a little show with Don Chisciotte, Sancho Panza and Cervantes (after a week it won't seem as amazing as the first day). Again related to Chiscotte, you can see the windmills in Campo de Criptana or in Almagro, reachable by train or car in about 1 hour.

In Ciudad Real you will definitely see, in Plaza Mayor, the Ayuntamiento town hall in Brutalist style, Plaza Pilar and Plaza del Prado with the adjoining Cathedral and the Don Quijote Museum (free on Wednesdays). To relax, I recommend Parque del Gasset, near the bus station, with the really lovely and peaceful city library, the Parque del Cementerio near the Porta Toledo where there are basketball courts, skateboarding and roller skating ramps and cycle paths; Parque del Retiro, near the station. You can get to the Parque del Atalaya by foot from Ciudad Real, and by car to las Tablas de Daimiel and las Lagunas de Ruidera where you can have picnics, excursions and enjoy the view.

Outside Ciudad Real, you can spend a half day visiting Almagro, Valdepenas and Almaden, and a whole day visiting the other provinces of Castilla la Mancha Toledo and Cuenca.

What advice would you give to future students going to Ciudad Real?

I can definitely say that you shouldn't forget the main reason for Erasmus, which is to deepen your university skills, so always go to your lessons, show that you are interested and take part, because many professors not only take the register but take into account your class attendance when giving you your final grade.

I also recommend you fully embrace whatever comes your way, because there are always ways to have fun.

As for partying, Ciudad Real has a lot to offer. From August until mid-October/November, on Thursdays, there are the famous Botellóns in the area near the university (INEM). With your drink, you can get to know people and get in the mood before going into the nighclub. Every month, from October to March, there are the Cervezadas every Thursday. These are Botellóns organised by different faculties in an unused water park. The atmosphere is the same as the Botellóns, but there is music and various platforms. There is no lack of Botellóns in the homes of various Erasmus students in the winter season. Here you can meet a lot of people as well as the Ciudad Real police, who always come at midnight on the dot.

If you are there all year, don't miss the Miguelturra Carneval!

All that's left now is, DISFRUTAD y MUCHA SUERTE :)

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