Analiese - Universitat Pompeu Fabra

B. Arts / Journalism
Semester 2, 2017; Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

I studied four journalism courses and one Spanish language course during my time on exchange. It was perhaps the most difficult to organise your subjects and timetables, making sure the class is in a language you understand as they are constantly changing. The University’s Mobility office is very helpful in this regard and can help you add or drop courses if there is an issue.

I enjoyed getting a fresh and first-hand perspective on world events from a European standpoint.

Personal experience

During my exchange, I was lucky enough to travel to 8 different countries. I have made many new friends from all over the world. I was able to expand my knowledge of Spanish language and culture as well as learn a little about the culture and language of Catalonia and the Basque country in the north of Spain.

Accommodation

It is very difficult to find accommodation in Barcelona. There is no on-campus accommodation at UPF and the rent can be very expensive in certain places. The best ways to find accommodation is either through Facebook groups for exchange students and websites or applications such as Fotocasa, Idealista and Badi. Rooms and apartments go quickly though so if you see one you like, ask to go and see it straight away or it will be taken. I found my flat through Badi and was very lucky to get two local roommates who took great care of me and taught me about the local culture and traditions and helped me with my Spanish.

Budget

The average cost for rent was around 300-450 EUR but it can be cheaper or more expensive depending on where it is located.

I found the Metro to be the fastest and easiest way to get around. It runs all over the city and is very efficient. It closes quite early on weekdays (midnight Sunday – Thursday, 2am Friday and all night Saturday) but there are night buses that run through the night. I would recommend getting either the monthly or 3-month transport pass that gives you unlimited trips on the trains, buses and trams. I got the T-Jove which lasts for 90 days and gives you unlimited trips on the metro trains, buses and trams for 105 EUR. It is a bit expensive but you definitely get your money's worth if you want to explore the city.

Food and drink is generally quite cheap in Barcelona, the more touristy the area the more expensive the place will be. Even though the restaurants are very cheap it is cheaper to buy groceries and make your own food when you can.

Professional development and employability

I think I have become very independent while on exchange and it has helped me to be more confident in both my social and university life. Being here during the height of the Catalan independence movement has also been an excellent opportunity for a journalism student to practice writing and build a portfolio.

Highlight

The highlight of my experience has been making new friends and being able to explore all throughout Europe with them. I knew no one before I came over but have been lucky enough to meet new people through classes, sport and travel and I am glad to have shared so many new and fun experiences with them.

Top tips

Even if you are on the fence about going on an exchange I would recommend you take the leap. It has been one of the best experiences of my life and I am so glad that I left my comfort zone and took this incredible opportunity.

My only advice would be to do as much research about the university and country that you plan to visit as you can. It can be helpful, not only with understanding and respecting the regions culture and traditions, but it also can give you some great ideas about where to travel and explore as well as preparing you for what can go wrong.