Riley - Universidad Pontificia Comillas

B. Engineering (Honours)/Commerce
Semester 1, 2018
There is always something on in Madrid – you can go to a museum in the morning and then be at the Sunday rave market in the afternoon.

Academic experience

At Comillas I did 7 subjects in the semester. I took 6 subjects as part of my degree (Derivatives, Financial Analysis, Financial Markets, International Political Economy, Mergers & Acquisitions and Portfolio Management) and a Spanish language course on top of this. Although the Spanish course meant extra contact hours, it was a lot of fun and quickly got me speaking a small amount of Spanish. The classes are more like high school. This means that you interact a lot with your classmates but also results in some stricter professors (it is not uncommon for them to take attendance or check that you have completed your homework). I found the classes a little easier than UQ.

Personal experience

Madrid is one of my favourite cities in the world. There is always something on – you can go to a museum in the morning and then be at the Sunday rave market in the afternoon. It is a very social city as there are always plenty of people outside enjoying restaurants, bars and parks. I especially love the relaxed nature of Spanish people who tend to prioritise friendship and having a good time.

I was surprised how many people I became friends with whilst I was in Madrid. Going by myself forced me to quickly make a whole network of friends. I found that having so much free time and no responsibilities meant we could spend a lot of time together and become close extremely fast.

Accommodation

I lived in a shared flat near Plaza de España with five other students. I really enjoyed living with other people from all over the world, this was made better with my roommates always being keen to hang out! Finding accommodation in Madrid can be tricky - there are plenty of properties with inflated rental prices and excessive fees targeting international students. My tip is to persevere and spend a while searching, you will find something great eventually. I used erasmusflat.com but idealista is also useful.

Costs

My two main expenses were rent which was 515 euros per month and groceries which were 40 euros per week. Unlimited travel on public transport is 20 euros per month for students which you can also use for day trips to surrounding towns. In restaurants and bars, expect to pay 10-20 euros for mains. Alcohol (especially beer and wine) is fairly cheap in Spain.

Challenge

Algarve, Portugal.

The biggest challenge I faced was finding accommodation. I stayed in a hostel for the first 10 days or so whilst I looked - a lot of places had already been taken. I definitely recommend having at least a few places lined up to inspect before you get there.

Professional Development

I think the experience shows that I am comfortable with tackling unfamiliar situations. I believe my newfound interest in Spanish shows my willingness to learn things outside of my degree.

Highlight

My highlight was the travel I did once exams finished.
I spent June in Italy with a group of friends that I met in Madrid. This was one of the best experiences of my life; we ate amazing food and saw beautiful cities and beaches. My friends were from Germany, Canada, Mexico and Italy and they truly are friends for life.
 
After this, I went to San Sebastian where I did an intensive Spanish language course for two weeks. I had lessons in the morning and went surfing every afternoon. This was super relaxing and helped my Spanish heaps!
 

Top tips

  • Don’t be afraid to go it alone, you will find your crowd and make friends for life.
  • Try and live as central as possible, you will be constantly meeting people all around town and it is great to be close to everything.
  • Don’t make too many plans before you get there, leave yourself flexible to do things with new friends!

 

Riley - Universidad Pontificia Comillas