The following is a useful (hopefully) but by no means exhaustive field guide of information for prospective Erasmus students ( and anyone else for that matter) considering coming to Tenerife to study at ULL. It is really going to cover the basics and give people a place to start, general stuff that either I would have liked to know, have discovered or otherwise think is important. Arranged in sections, it will be updated as I have the material together.
This will be produced in a printed book and available on here.
I may not think of everything and encourage questions and suggestions from anyone who wants to know a particular thing, please just ask in the comments at the bottom of the page. Also I often refer to “the City”, this is a catchall term for Santa Cruz and La Laguna as they are connected and essentially an extended city.
Part 1-Getting here and getting around
Santa Cruz is the capital of the Canary islands.
There are two airports in Tenerife so depending on your airline and where you are flying from you will either go to Tenerife Sur or Los Rodeos ( Tenerife Norte) it makes sense to fly to Los Rodeos as it is in La Laguna but the island has a great bus system so you can get to Santa Cruz in around an hour on the 111 bus. A taxi will cost a lot more averaging around 90 Euros. More info on bus travel in Tenrefe HERE
Just make sure you have cash in Euros and ask for un billete a Santa Cruz. it will take you to the Intercambiador bus station so you can get a taxi to your hotel/hostel or wherever you are staying.
The bus is colloquially known as la guagua, (pronounced wawa) a South American term that basically means mini bus or small bus, it refers to it being a local service but in Tenreife it is not a ramshackle operation by any stretch, and believe me, the drivers are all about getting there on time and they move those things around corners and down hills at terror inducing speeds some times, but they do it with such ease that they are able to navigate tight bends and turns like they aren’t even there! These are the best bus drivers I have ever encountered, hands down.
Across the road from the Intercambiador is the Tranvia, the city’s tram system. It is small but extremely efficient. Bikes are allowed to be transported on the tram as well which is fantastically useful. Santa Cruz and the tram line in particular are on a big steep hill so it makes getting around a lot easier. It goes from Santa Cruz by the Auditorio to the centre of La Laguna via the Intercambiador of La Laguna where you will find a bus interchange like the one in Santa Cruz, also it passes by the campus on the way and has a couple of different stops depending on which part of the campus you are attending. Las Mantecas for the school of art, Campus Guajara ( pronounced wahara) Cruz de Piedra & Padre Anchieta are all stops for various parts of the ULL campus.
The last tram towards La Laguna (LL) leaves the Intercambiador in Santa Cruz (SC) at 12:30 at night during the week and about two hours later on the weekends.
If you like to walk then I strongly suggest this as the best way of getting to know the city. Essentially you have the tram line going up the middle on Rambla Pulido and Rambla De Santa Cruz going across, I found this a good place to call centre and go from there, you may want to find another place. It is a very hilly place so there will be lots of uphill and down hill walking, sometimes the steep downhills can be harder work than the up.
Get a really comfortable pair of shoes ( lightweight running shoes are perfect) and just walk, walk and walk and explore and get your bearings.
Take your time, the pace here is much slower than what you will be used to so be prepared to slow down significantly, straight away, this is a good thing!
A lot of people ride motor scooters here and bicycles are of course very popular, it seems to be ok to cycle on the pavement but most riders that do this will be pretty low key about it and go slowly, not buzzing close.
Walking and pavements..: people walk in a very relaxed pace and in general everyone is pretty chilled and allows everyone else their space, this will likely be in stark contrast to the navigating of the pavements in the cities of the UK. Again… prepare to slow down, not to rush and go with the flow.
There are zebra crossings all over the city and pedestrians have the right of way, (unless there is a traffic light then it dictates) as you walk across the cars will automatically stop for you… this is normal but might take some getting used to again as it is markedly different in the UK.
There are public toilets in both bus stations In SC & LL, The Corte Ingles shopping centre near the Intercambiador in SC, in the Auditorio, TEA and down by the Plaza de Espana in SC, the public Library in la Laguna and others, I will make a more detailed list as the guide progresses.
Day Trips are the way forward, as you can get anywhere on the aforementioned green comets so definitely get to know which bus goes where, sometimes there are several different route numbers going through a place and the bus schedule and routes take some getting used to. Some buses run very infrequently on weekends and holidays so it’s worth some planning if you want to get back and not miss the last bus! BUS SCHEDULE
Walking/Hiking or whatever you choose to call it is a big draw for travelers here and there are many trails and a walking festival as well.
Here are a few bits of information for some walks and trails to give you an idea of what’s here. It can get cold in the mountains so prepare for this.
If you are an avid or experienced walker then likely you will know what you need or have the right gear but if not then it is really important to make sure you do, check out your routes and make sure you have proper boots or sturdy shoes as some of the paths are rocky and have loose bits. There are many shops in La Laguna and Santa Cruz that sell hiking gear but it can be a little on the expensive side, might be best to but this stuff before you come over.
Part 2 – Daily Life
Weather, ( La Clima) something most people want to know more about, have heard about or come here for.. the weather here is really pleasant, not hot and warm and sunny pretty much all the time, it is winter now ( January/Feb) so only around 17-22/3 on average and at night is much chillier especially up the hill in La Laguna so definitely bring a sweatshirt. Here are a few things about the climate in Tenerife
Siesta is taken seriously, and it is a good thing, shops will shut in the middle of the day, but not all, some of the bigger ones will stay open and there are different times but usually from 2/2:30 til around 4/4:30 and some restaurants will close after lunch around 2/2:30 and then open up again around 7pm. Smaller neighborhood bars or Tascas (more details on these in food and drink chapter) are usually open all day from quite early for breakfast til late.
People are out and about til pretty late, midnight still sees people out in the streets and many shops will be open til around 9pm.
Sunday will see most things closed except the two excellent markets here in Santa Cruz the Nuestra Senora De Africa and the Mercado in La Laguna, while open on weekends most of the stalls in both of these shut down for siesta so make sure you plan your shopping around this or you’ll get there to find everything shut, you’ll get used to it. The Nuestra Senora De Africa Mercado has many other vendors on the fringes on a weekend and you can buy anything from used books and cameras to clothes and the usual flea market treasures, it’s really fantastic so bring cash!
Dogs are hugely present here and many people have small dogs, quite often two or more and they are a big part of the sociable aspects of street life, people stopping for a chat and for the dogs to say hello as well. Dogs do seem to rule the roost and I suppose this makes sense as they gave the islands their name. That said, beware of landmines, it is worse in some places rather than others but beware, it’s out there!
.. in progress!
There are a few options for accommodation here, you will want to do some research before you come over so you know where to look and what to look for.
One thing to do is, if you are coming for Erasmus of course is make sure you get onto the ULL student accommodation before the deadline, I would have done this but had no way of knowing it was as early as it was so went another route.
Alternately you may want to opt for private renting, definitely there are loads of options and lots available so please do a fair bit of looking, research and familiarising yourself with what is what before you pick something.
This is where basic terminology familiarity will come in handy so here are just a few key words and terms that you should be aware of before you start looking for a place.
Alquilar: Rent Habitacion/Dormitorio: room
Compartir : share Gastos: bills
Amueblado: furnished Inmueble: unfurnished
Disponible: available Mes: Month Semana: Week
So those are a couple of very basic words to get started with and one thing you will find useful is that everyone here is fond of Whatsapp and it is a really useful thing when looking for an apartment or room. Get it if you don’t already have it, most people renting here will want to use this as a main method of contact.
You will often see rooms advertised as being either exterior or interior, this is related to the way Spanish buildings are constructed, with a central column open in the centre where windows will face so some bedrooms will face the street/outisde of the building and some will face this interior area where there will be less light ( no direct) and no view so be sure to check that out before hand.
Here are some of the main websites that list rentals, shares and other private accommodation ( these are all set to local listings but check to make sure you update your search criteria).
Also, just to bear in mind you may want to get a hostel, hotel or Pensione (very low key and spartan cheap accommodation, usually family run and with shared bathrooms, important to note if this matters to you) for a week or so before you get here so you can use that week to go and view places, this is the best way as you will need to familiarise yourself with the areas and the map before you find yourself renting a poky dark room in a dodgy neighborhood!! But don’t worry, there are people you can ask about this and about where to go, myself included of course.
Homes and flats here seem to be much cooler inside than you would expect, stone terrazzo floors see to this, often it is cold inside.
Food and Drink
Dinner –no exact word translation but varies depending on usage and context
Pretty much all supermarkets will close on a Sunday, the Mercados in Santa Cruz and La Laguna are open until 3pm and they are the best way to get good fesh food and enjoy the energy of the city.
As is the usual way in Spain people eat smaller amounts and not so much larger meals as we are used to in the UK/US Australia etc. you will come across many neighborhood bars, little cafes and Tascas ( pub in Spanish) , places you can get a coffee, beer, sandwiches, bocadillos y pulguitas, sandwiches made from little baguettes with a variety of fillings, queso fresco or Manchego, tomato and serrano ham being fairly standard. Small bites .. pulguitas.. and a drink are a popular snack. Coffee is as ubiquitous as air and comes in a variety of ways, cafe con leche tends to be served with condensed milk, cappucino with whipped cream, Espresso ( cafe solo) strong and short and Cafe Americano varies from place to place. If you want standard coffee but with milk, UK style ask for a cafe Americano y leche. can get a good breakfast of Tortilla, coffee and juice at pretty much every cafe for well under 5 Euros, fresh squeezed orange juice is standard in most cafes.
Supermarkets are basically the same, however in the fruit and veg section however there are scales and you will either have to weigh and tag your own produce ( Mercadona) or there will be someone there to do it for you, they will put a price sticker on it, unlike the UK this is NOT done at the till and if you take bagged produce to the till without it being weighed and priced someone will have to go back there and do it.
The main supermarkets are Mercadona and Hiperdino of course there are Aldo and Lidl as well as Carrefour and, in my opinion the best of the lot is the supermarket in the Corte Ingles near the bus station in Santa Cruz but it is a little more expensive, Hiperdino being the least expensive but along with that the smaller range.
There are a lot of smaller fruiterias and other shops, bakeries and carnicerias all over the city so you will never be lost, plan ahead for Sundays and siesta times though.
Legal and University information
So you’re here, found a place to live and are starting to figure your way around… next thing you need is to get your NIE number and register with the Ayuntamiento, which office you go to will depend on whether you live in Santa Cruz or La Laguna.
You WILL need the NIE number before you can register at University, there may be conflicting information floating around but the fact is you need to do it this way.
If you rent with people who already have a lease you will need to get them to sign a form given to you by the city to say you are living with them and they will need to provide ID and addresses, passport numbers etc. Always take everything you have with you to these appointments, well not appointments but showing ups at the offices, including your Erasmus papers, passport etc, everything.
Officina de Extranjeros in Santa Cruz
The one in La laguna
You will need to go in and get the forms, fill them in and go back, get them signed and stamped recieve your number then go to the police station to register. It seems simple but be prepared to be sent back and forth a few times and be given extra papers to fill in or asked for various things. Once you have filled in and returned all your papers you will just have to wait a couple of weeks so it’s best to get this out of the way as soon as you arrive.
Registering for uni should be a far simpler task as there is a day where everyone shows up to the international office ( Calle Viana, 50, La Laguna) and does it at the same time so don’t worry about that, just check for the dates and be prepared to wait a bit. This is only to register as an Erasmus student, this IS NOT your enrollment for uni which you will need to make an appointment for later on, your departmental co-ordinator should be able to help you with this.
Helpful words,terms and links:
Cita Previa: Previous Appointment
NIE: Número de Identificación de Extranjero you do need this so do it as soon as possible
About NIE with sample forms and help to fill it in HERE this is really all you need here.
About Tenerife, Santa Cruz & La Laguna