Laura - Universidad Pontificia Comillas

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2019

Academic experience

While in Madrid, I mostly did courses that were specifically for exchange students, but I also enrolled in regular classes because I needed credits for my major (Peace and Conflict Studies). It was a little tricky to organise initially because of timetable clashes and the differences in crediting systems, but I ended up doing International Human Rights, Peace Processes, and Environment and Sustainability. Even though the classes meant for exchange students tended to be a little easier as they understand that all students come from different academic backgrounds, I really enjoyed the classes that I had enrolled in for my major. I also did Spanish for Exchange Students to gain credit for my other major. The classes at the university were structured somewhat differently to those at UQ, they were more similar to the tutorials here. At the start, it was a little strange, especially as attendance was mandatory and there was no lecture recordings, but I grew to like it. It made the lecturers and other students seem more approachable. However, most classes were much less organised than what we are used to at UQ, so just be prepared to ask more questions than you’re used to about the assessment and the lecturers’ expectations.

Personal experience

Going on exchange is a fantastic opportunity! I met some great people who I’m still friends with, got to visit so many amazing places, and was even able to improve my spanish a little.


The university doesn’t actually have on-campus accommodation, so I rented a room from a family. It was more low-key than a host family but I think it provided the perfect balance. They were there if you had questions and would still ask you how your day was, but you were still independent/responsible for yourself.


In comparison to Australia, Spain is quite cheap. It is pretty easy to get a basic meal or tapa and drink for under ten euros. Travelling both in and outside of the country was also relatively inexpensive. Students are able to get a metro card in Madrid for 20 euros a month, including fares to and from the airport which are usually an additional fee. Flights and buses throughout Europe tend to be quite inexpensive as well, which is great for an exchange student! The most expensive thing was probably rent, but it was quite comparable to Australia and largely depended on what you were personally looking for and where the apartment was located.


One of the biggest challenges during my time on exchange was putting myself out there. I’m not always the most extroverted of people, but when you’re on exchange you’re constantly meeting new people, at the uni and while you’re travelling. I definitely had to learn to adjust a little to make sure I made the most of my time while Iwas there.

Professional Development

Another major difference between the academic system at Comillas and UQ is the number of group assessments. I’ve only had one group assessment the whole time I’ve been at UQ, but in just one semester in Madrid, I did around five. This definitely helped me to improve my teamwork skills and patience.


It was so much fun just being able to visit all of the different places I was able to, but the highlight of my experience was being able to travel with people I had met during my time on exchange!

Top tips

My advice to other students hoping to go to Comillas in the future would be to choose classes you enjoy. Even though the classes offered to exchange students are specifically designed for them, don’t be afraid to enrol in the classes that might be a little more difficult, the could be much more enjoyable! And of course, make sure you take full advantage of your opportunity to travel around Europe!