Cassandra - Universitat Pompeu Fabra

B. Arts
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

I studied primarily Politics courses with a few electives in the arts faculty. I was told when I applied that I would have difficulty as there were not very many English courses running. I did not find this to be a serious problem as there were just enough courses available but they did tend to be conducted trilingually, which I found to be incredibly difficult! I also found that the expectations for students were very low; they know you aren't really over there for study so they don't care too much and it is very difficult to fail. That being said, I really did like my classes and teachers and it was very intriguing to learn about politics from a Euro-centric perspective.

Personal experience

I made a variety of friends from all different countries; we have different perspectives, languages and histories. I loved being so close to different countries with such a variety of cultures, all I did was travel.

Accommodation

I lived primarily off campus in a shared flat with a Canary Islander, a Finnish girl and a girl from Kenya. It was cheap (compared to Australia) and fairly spacious. I hated some of my roommates but I think that is just part of the bargain. DO NOT MOVE INTO A COLLEGE!! When I first moved overseas I went to one and it was 3 times more expensive then a flat and they have very strict rules e.g. no drinking, no visitors etc. I know it is scary moving to a country where you don't speak the language (I didn't) but you will really regret it and almost everyone speaks English, other than my landlord.

Budget

Skiing in Andorra
Skiing in Andorra

Rent: 370 euros per month (I got ripped off, don't pay more than 350 euros unless you get your own bathroom, every place there is 350).

Transport: 50 euros per month- this includes a couple of taxi rides. If you live close to the university in Barcelona (like I did) you can walk basically everywhere. You can buy a T10 card which lasted me about 2 weeks and was just for when I went anywhere out of the centre. I hardly used taxis because the metro system is really good (Friday night until 2 am and opens at 5:30, Saturday all night) which just meant we stayed at the clubs until the metro opened in the morning. You can also do bicing which is the communal city bike service which was (I think) 50 euros for a year? I didn't do that because I liked walking but it is a good option, you just have to be careful of finding parks.

Food: 70-100 euros a week? I spend a lot on food so if you are careful it could be less (you would have to be very careful though, I ate most of my meals at home). Eating out seems cheap but it is basically the same as Australia. 

Entertainment: 15 euros a week. The clubs open at 12 and you don't have to pay until 2 am (which is when everyone gets there) so if you plan ahead you can get in for free. At least once a week my friends and I couldn't get organised in time and would have to pay the entrance fee which does normally include a drink. I know it seems incredibly late but I promise, you will get used to it and will struggle to make the 2 am deadline. I never drank out because it was so cheap to buy alcohol at the supermarket and that is what everyone does. 

Travel: it is very expensive. Plan where you want to go before you leave and budget for it. Everyone I knew ran out of money. I also went on unplanned trips so it is a good idea to have a bit of extra money put away.

Professional development and employability

I gained a basic understanding of conversational Spanish and can now understand the European/Spanish perspective on Politics, specifically in the areas of cultural independence (Catalan politics dominated my stay) and economic integration.

Highlight

Hanging at the beach and drinking beer every day during summer after my classes with friends from around the world

Top tips

  • Don't worry about not speaking the language, you are incredibly fortunate to be blessed with English as your native tongue and everyone will want to practice on you.
  • Generally, people from that country do want to be friends with you; you are at two drastically different points in your lives and they don't really care for people who only want to party, don't speak their language will leave in 6 months. The only people I found from Spain that actually wanted to be friends are ones who run the student exchange/Erasmus events. Don't be disheartened, you will make great friends who are also on exchange.
  • You need a lot of money than you think you will if you don't have someone who can bail you out (parents etc) be really careful and then go crazy at the end. Travelling especially is really expensive when you are doing it all the time. 
Cassandra - Universitat Pompeu Fabra