Exchange to Ramon Llull, La Salle, Barcelona, Semester 2, 2017
When I started my degree I thought my exchange was forever away, when really it creeps up on you quicker then you think. For months I spent my time researching Europe, writing checklists and saving for my trip. But nothing could prepare me for the day I finally departed Australia, saying goodbye to everyone for 7 months, starting my adventure as a solo traveller.
Before departing for Barcelona ACU assisted me with contacting Ramon Llull university to help organise my exchange, whilst also putting me in contact with another ACU student who is completing her exchange at the same university. This helped settle my nerves as I could communicate with someone who was going through the same process as myself. Planning a budget before leaving is essential to calculate roughly how much money you will have whilst abroad. Calculating your monthly rent and roughly how much you plan to spend on food each week is a good foundation to begin with.
The amazing thing about European Universities is that their semesters start mid September to October, allowing a lot of time for travel before university starts. Once my semester 1 exams finished in Australia I was lucky enough to travel around Europe for 2 months before university began in Spain. In these 2 months I travelled to 18 countries within Europe. This experience fitted well with my global studies degree as I experienced a diversity of cultures, history, food, dancing and languages. I had never travelled solo before, I found travelling before starting uni pushed me outside my comfort zone. This made it easier for myself to go up and introduce myself to people at university and start conversations.
When I arrived in Barcelona I was nervous about the language barrier. However, once I arrived I realised how welcoming the Spanish culture are. As long as you attempt to put in effort and speak Spanish they are extremely helpful. I’ve learnt learning basic greetings goes a long way when travelling.
In my first few days in Barcelona I met other students from Ramon Llull University. There is a massive diversity on campus, Portuguese, Norwegian, Italian, Russian and Argentinian, just to name a few. However, the language barrier that I was so worried about has been no problem as all these students speak English. I also met some students who have grown up in Barcelona. This was super helpful as they told me the tourist hotspots of Barcelona, where to go shopping, and cheap restaurants. Barcelona is an expensive city, so making friends with the locals is definitely a lifesaver. Another benefit of making friends with the locals is they want to improve their English, whilst I want to improve my Spanish. However, I’m trying not to get to comfortable speaking English all the time. Living abroad is a great opportunity to learn another language, which is a great attribute to put on your resume.
I have only lived in Barcelona for one week and during that time I have learnt the history of the Catalonian people who are currently voting and campaigning to leave Spain and become their own country again. Experiencing this has allowed me to understand Spain’s culture, history and laws, which ties perfectly with myself studying law. This has allowed myself to create an opinion and understand the European Union, cultural differences and the European legal system.
Whilst I have not started classes yet I am excited to experience European university life, meet more new friends and build on my Spanish.