Semester 2, 2017 exchange to Ramon Llull La Salle University
Studying abroad has allowed me to experience a different university culture to Australia. In Spain I am completing English-speaking business units. I thought because of this I would be in class with mainly other exchange students from around the world. However, in Spain a lot of Spanish students take their university degrees in English to improve on their written and oral English communication.
In four out of five units I am completing abroad group work is a massive component of the course. This has allowed me to meet and work with a lot of other students who have grown up in Barcelona, along with a diversity of people from Colombia, United States, Netherlands, France, Mexico, Argentina, and Russia just to name a few. This is an extremely different familiarity to what I have experienced in Australia, as in my course it’s mainly all Australians.
Group work can be quite challenging due to the different work methods, perceptions and values all the different cultures hold. Learning and experiencing the different cultural views has allowed me form a deeper understanding of each individual culture. In Barcelona at the moment a referendum was just conducted for Catalonia to leave Spain, hearing the different political views and being able to experience the different events in Barcelona recently has been an amazing cultural experience.
My Global studies degree has given me a lot of flexibility with what units I can complete whilst studying abroad which definitely makes the experience easier as I can complete units I am interested in, as well as completing units which are not offered back in Australia. In Barcelona the unit credit points differ to the Australian system requiring me to take five units this semester. However, the Spanish are known for their siestas where everything closes in the middle of the day for an afternoon nap which definitely accommodates for the five units.
Whilst I am in week 5 of the semester classes are still being re-structured and organised. I have learnt I need to be patient and flexible as in Spain it is common for things to constantly change and be adjusted. A common phrase you need to remember when travelling abroad is “It’s not wrong, just different.”
Just because the semester has started doesn’t mean travel has to stop. I have travelled to Munich and Sweden during the past five weeks and have multiple upcoming trips. On my first day in Barcelona it was urged by the head of the international affairs department to make the most of our studying abroad experience by travelling throughout Europe and through Spain. La Salle also has connections with tour companies which gives students subsidized weekend trips away, which is extremely helpful for students living on a budget.
If I could give any advice to other students wanting to travel abroad it would be to choose a country you have never travelled to before. This makes you step outside your comfort zone making your travels more rewarding as you experience a different way of life and culture all on your own, giving yourself self fulfilment as you took a risk.