Study in Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (4)

Study in Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (4)

1. Application process

To apply to UAB, I used the help of the free placement agency MicroEDU. You can request information material in advance on the website and get advice on your favorite universities by email or telephone. At first I wasn’t sure where to go for the semester abroad, so I asked the MicroEDU Team for advice on the semester abroad in the USA and Spain.It quickly became clear to me, mainly because of the lower costs, that I wanted to apply to the UAB. The agency has really been of great help here. I always received a detailed answer very quickly to all questions and uncertainties about the university, the application or the choice of course. When you have decided on a university, you first fill out the complete application documents (general application form, English résumé, transcript of records, passport photo…) and send them to MicroEDU in Münster, observing the application deadline. The application is checked here and then forwarded to the UAB if it is complete and correct.

Basically, you have two options at UAB. Either you apply for the normal Study Abroad Program, which takes place at the main Bellaterra campus and in Spanish, or you decide, like me, for the pre-established Study Abroad Program. This is explicitly aimed at internationals, ie the courses are held in English and only at 2 separate campuses in the city.

I received the confirmation from the UAB after just 2 weeks. As soon as a deposit of 500 euros has been made, you will receive a binding confirmation and the study place is guaranteed. You should do this as quickly as possible to secure his place, however, as the UAB only a limited number of study places has

Through MicroEDU, a contact list of all other MicroEDU exchange students in Barcelona was also published, as well as a Facebook group for previous exchanges.

2. Finding accommodation

The search for an apartment in Barcelona is a little different than in Germany. Renting a room, for example, is possible at much shorter notice, so that you can only look for an apartment on site. In general, you have the choice of applying for a dormitory or a host family, or renting a room.Since I previously lived in Bonn, where the rental prices are also very high, the rental prices were comparable for me. Anyone who spends 400 – 500 euros for a room in a shared apartment will usually find a good room. There are also some rooms around 300 euros, but they are often further outside or are very small. In addition, interior rooms are also often rented in Spain, ie the room faces the inner courtyard or hallway, so there is no window to the outside. These are then usually a little cheaper.

I decided to look for a room in a shared apartment. After reading the recommendation in many field reports to look for the apartment on site, I decided to look in Barcelona first. However, I can say in advance that you should have strong nerves to search on site! Most Germans have already looked for their room in Germany. Most Americans stayed in student dormitories or home stays. As a student residence, the RESA houses should be very good. If you apply in good time and secure a place in the student dormitory, you will definitely save yourself a lot of work looking for an apartment. However, I was too late with my request, so I decided to look for a shared apartment.

I booked a pension for the first 3 nights. Here I can highly recommend the Pension Villanueva on Placa Real. There are many websites, such as Idealista and Easy Piso, where you can find rooms. You can also find a lot of recruitment agencies, but they charge high agency fees. I got to know some who had booked their room in advance through an agency and were also satisfied.

On the first day I wrote to a lot of landlords on Easy Piso and Idealista and only got back sporadic answers. I can definitely recommend calling the landlord directly in order to arrange a viewing appointment immediately and not have to wait for an answer by email. So you can better plan the viewing day. I was able to look at some of the rooms and unfortunately had to accept some disappointments. In the first 4 days there was nothing suitable, so that, to my desperation, I had to spend another night in the guesthouse. You should plan a week for looking for an apartment on site and don’t rent a room out of fear that you don’t like. In general there is no housing shortage in Barcelona, but the demand is particularly high at the end of August / beginning of September, as many students and internationals are looking for a room during this time. You should be prepared for the fact that very often you only get to know the landlord and don’t know who else lives in the shared apartment. In addition, in Barcelona, ​​every additional square meter that is not used is often rented out. This means that very small rooms à la Harry Potter are often rented out. For example, I visited a 4 square meter room. Often families also rent out a single room in their apartment, which is usually not immediately apparent.

In general, you should also lower your standard a bit, as the apartments in Barcelona are often very outdated. In the course of the semester, some of my friends also had to deal with bed bugs, especially in the typical Erasmus apartments, this is a common problem. If you find a room that you really like, it is best to agree to it directly or during the day.Most landlords rent out the apartments on the “first come, first serve” principle. Fortunately, it worked for me on the 5th day and I found a room in a great location in Eixample, near the Plaza Universitats (wanted for a flat share). Unfortunately, this was an interior room, which was absolutely okay for the short stay of 4 months. You are always on the move a lot and apart from that, my flat share was great and I felt comfortable from the first day. I lived with a young Spanish couple and another German. If you have the chance, look for a flat share with Spaniards. So you get a lot more of the culture and can even speak Spanish.

Even if it took a lot of nerve to look for my room on site, I don’t regret this decision. In the end I found a great flat share that was also very central. When looking for an apartment, I had many interesting encounters and experienced the cultural differences directly. I also got to know a very good friend, with whom I always did a lot throughout the semester.

Others, who were looking for their room from Germany, were sometimes negatively surprised by the condition, the location of the apartment or the flatmates upon arrival. In the worst case, you even end up with a fraudster.

However, if you decide to search locally, you should take enough time and not put yourself under pressure. Everyone I met who was looking for their room in Barcelona found a room within a week.

3. Description of the university / faculty

The Autonomous University of Barcelona is a state university founded in 1968. Their main campus, Bellaterra, is around 30 km from Barcelona. In total, over 50,000 students study at the UAB. 77 different courses are offered.

Internationals who complete the “Pre-established study abroad program” do not study together with the locals at the Bellaterra Campus. The program is aimed exclusively at internationals. In small groups of a maximum of 30 people, courses from the fields of Business, Economics, Politics, Mediterranean Studies and Spanish can be chosen. Most of the students come from the USA or Germany. However, there were also a few Dutch, Belgians, Canadians and Koreans in my courses. There are 2 different campuses in Barcelona itself for the program : the Eixample campus and the Sant Pau campus.

The Eixample Campus is located in the heart of the city, in the beautiful Eixample district. Mainly the economic courses and some language courses take place here. All my lectures took place here exclusively. Unfortunately, this is not a classic campus, but a building that is reminiscent of a residential building. The perfect location, in the immediate vicinity of Passeig de Gracias, the magnificent boulevard Barcelona makes up for it. The lunch break or a longer break between lectures is ideal to go into town for a little shopping tour or to pay a visit to one of the numerous cafes and restaurants.

The Sant Pau campus is a bit further out, but is also well connected to the metro network. The campus is beautiful and a lot bigger than the one in Eixample. It is an old building belonging to the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. In contrast to the Eixample Campus, the Sant Pau Campus also has a library with PCs and a small cafe. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a course here, because the arts and social sciences are the main subjects here. However, some fellow students had courses at both campuses. Thanks to the good metro connection, these can be reached quickly within 20 minutes.

The introductory event at the beginning of the semester also takes place on the Sant Pau Campus. But you should definitely go to the Sant Pau Campus for a day and look around. Then you can also pay a visit to the magnificent main part of the Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The building is really impressive. You can learn a lot about history here and you can also visit some of the former hospital rooms.

4. Description of the region / city

Barcelona is just great !!! The city has so much to offer that you can never get bored.

The Catalan city with its Mediterranean buildings simply has charm. If you have seen the impressive main sights, such as the Gaudi houses, Passeig de Gracia, Park Guell or the Sagrada Familia, there are still so many great squares, streets and alleys to discover. I also often just strolled through the city and let the beautiful buildings work on me.

The Bunkers del Carmel were a highlight for me. These are located on a mountain on the outskirts of the city near Park Guell. Especially in the summer months it was great to sit here and enjoy the sunset and great views of the whole city. In the city there are 2 other mountains with great views. On the one hand the mountain Montjuic, where the Castell de Montjuic is located and to which the cable car also goes. The “Brunch in the Parc” electrical festival takes place here once a month during the summer months. An excursion should definitely also go to the Tibidabo mountain. There is a small amusement park right at the top. The park is not particularly spectacular, but the view and the flair are unique.

Due to the Mediterranean climate, Barcelona offers a very high quality of life. Most of the life takes place outside. In the first two months in particular, I was almost only in my flat to sleep.

When I arrived in Barcelona at the end of August, it was still very warm, so I spent a lot of time on the beach, especially in August and September. During the main tourist season, the Barceloneta beach is unfortunately very overcrowded. However, if you drive to the beach sections of Mar Bella, this is much more pleasant. I can also highly recommend taking the bus to Gava Mar, near Castelldefels, as you will find a really great and spacious beach here.

Until mid-October the temperatures are still pretty summery and even in November there were always a few really warm days. In general, the sun shines very often, which has had a very positive effect on my mood and entrepreneurship. Barcelona also has a lot to offer in culinary terms. There are so many cafés, restaurants and tapas bars that unfortunately you cannot try all of them in such a short time. The Spaniards usually go out a lot, so full restaurants and bars are perfectly normal even during the week.

Barcelona has a very good nightlife with many bars and clubs, which thanks to the countless guest lists of the promoters as an international, you can almost always get in for free. At the beginning of September, for example, Zedd was in the Opium and, thanks to the guest list, you didn’t have to pay any admission here either. The beach clubs (Opium, Pacha, Shoko..) are also very popular with tourists, so they are almost always very full. But there are so many other party locations that you should definitely try out. In addition, there are many free dinners in the clubs, especially at the beginning of the semester, where you can eat tapas for free and then party.

There are also a lot of cozy bars, especially in the beautiful El Born district. There are always cool events taking place, such as Stand Up Comedy Nights or Magic Mic Nights. I also went to a language exchange a couple of times, where you had the opportunity to talk to locals and improve your Spanish. I can only recommend this to everyone because you only study with internationals at the university.

“La Merce” will take place in Barcelona at the end of September. This is the Fiesta Mayor, the largest city festival. Over 500 events take place here over several days. These include the typical program items such as the impressive and well-known human towers, “Castellers”, and the fire games “Correfoc”. There are also several fireworks and concerts. The highlight of the event in 2016 was the Manu Chao concert.

Due to the popularity of Barcelona, ​​you should definitely check out what concerts are taking place. For example, I was at a Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which was a special highlight of the semester abroad for me. Should you ever need a break from Barcelona, ​​the surrounding cities are definitely worth a trip.I can highly recommend Sitges, Girona and Tarragona, which can be easily reached by train in under an hour. Sitges is a very cute town with lots of little boutiques and a really great beach. Girona is particularly attractive due to the historical, medieval old town and Tarragona is also highly recommended because of the historic city center with Roman monuments. A trip to the Montserrat mountains with some very adventurous hiking trails should not be missed either.

As you can see, Barcelona offers endless opportunities to spend your free time that you can hardly grasp in such a short time!

5. Description of the courses taken

I have chosen a total of 3 business courses, which I credit for my major in “International Management”. I also took a Spanish course. Each course takes place twice a week (Mon / Wed, or Tue / Thu) for 100 minutes each. The first course starts at 9 a.m. and the last one ends at 7:20 p.m. There is always a lunch break from 12:40 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. There is also a break of 20 minutes between each course. Friday is generally always free. The courses are selected when applying before the start of the semester. However, in the first few weeks in the add and drop period, you still have the option of adding courses, or deselecting and exchanging courses. However, this only works if there are still free places in the course.

However, I did not take advantage of this because I was satisfied with the choice of course.

On Mondays and Wednesdays I only had Crosscultural Management from 5:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:20 p.m. Along with the lunch break, however, I was free from 12:40 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. and was always able to make good use of the time to do my homework or to test out the cafes in the area.

Crosscultural Management

Crosscultural Management aims to increase awareness and competence in dealing with other cultures. In terms of content, Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are dealt with. The first topic was, for example, Individualism vs. Collectivisim. The different extremes are defined and explained with examples. You learn the different characteristics of each dimension and then you can classify different countries in terms of their characteristics. Jean Philippe has a lot of experience in dealing with different cultures and always brings a lot of interesting practical examples, as well as helpful information on dealing with foreign cultures in everyday life and in the working world. His anecdotes, some of which are very funny, are always very entertaining and varied. In addition to the theoretical part, articles are worked on and discussed and there are 1 – 2 group work in almost every teaching unit. In addition, texts on “Cultural Metaphors” were distributed, which were worked on in groups of three. In a 30-minute presentation, each group should present their cultural metaphor. The presentation should have the character of a discussion, such as the simulation of a TV show. In the last third of the semester, there were 10-minute individual presentations on previously edited texts. Both presentations together make up 20% of the overall grade.

There is no midterm exam in this course, so the final exam makes up 40% of the overall grade. On the day of the finals, we also have to hand in a short term paper on the subject of “My personal orientation”, in which we have classified ourselves in every cultural dimension. This paper counts 20%. There is often homework, but it is not very time consuming. This and the oral participation then make up the remaining 20% ​​of the overall grade.

I really enjoyed the course. It was very interesting to receive in-depth information about the cultural differences and to become aware of the characteristics of one’s own culture. I have learned a lot of new and interesting things that help me in everyday life and in my professional life. The discussions in the multicultural group were particularly interesting.

The workload for the course is well distributed and therefore never particularly high. The preparation of the presentations was the most time-consuming, but also counted the least afterwards.

Managerial Skills for International Business

Managerial skills at Maydo were also very interesting and varied. Maydo studied psychology and has since worked in management positions in several companies. She brings very interesting examples from the HR department. With her honest manner, she always provides entertainment in the course. Thematically, topics related to management and leadership are dealt with, e.g. characteristics of a good manager. A total of 16 different topics were worked out, eg leadership, time management, emotional intelligence, foreign assignments with employees … The various topics were very varied and were worked out interactively. Maydo uploads various documents to a dropbox. A script is available for every topic, as well as some articles, some of which are worked out as homework or in groups. Various scenes from films are also analyzed for almost every topic. The theories and concepts learned are to be applied here. Maydo also includes many outdoor activities and team building measures that take place again and again in the neighboring park and ensure confused looks and lots of fun.

As a team building measure at the beginning of the semester, Maydo organized an “Activity at the Beach” day. Here everyone could register voluntarily for 10 euros and play beach volleyball and soccer on Gava Mar beach (approx. 20 minutes by bus from Placa Espanya), as well as go paddle boating.

There is a midterm exam and a final exam in this course, each making up 25% of the overall grade. Getting a good grade is really very easy as it is a 15 minute test with true / false questions. However, you should always be present, as there are also many questions about the group activities and discussions and Maydo always checks the presence. The remaining 50% of the grade is made up of oral participation, homework, punctuality, work ethic and participation in group activities. Maydo is really very fair and rates very nicely.

International Marketing Strategies

This course was very chaotic, but in retrospect I really enjoyed it. I was in Chengcheng Li’s course. She is from China and has been living in Spain for some time, where she is currently doing her MBA. Since it was her first course with “real” students, otherwise she only teaches executives and professionals, she was very excited and wanted to do everything perfectly. She is really really nice and really wants us all to learn something for life. Instead, she likes to talk about her personal experiences and about setting up her own company, or about the economy and attitudes in China. I always found these real insights very interesting. Chengcheng is highly motivated and is trying the course for oneInspiring marketing career. The not particularly good knowledge of English is not an obstacle, with hands and feet and many new words and grammar creations, Chencheng raves about marketing and entertains the course very much. Thematically, however, the structure and the concept were missing in the course. Some in the course had very little previous marketing knowledge. Chengcheng then completely overturned her initially planned concept in the first hour and came up with a new one within 5 minutes. She has prepared a script with marketing topics for each lesson, but always liked to wander quickly and spontaneously put in a discussion or had a “very good idea” from group work, which was then brought forward. The end of the course always came very suddenly for them, so that we sometimes did longer or postponed the content to the next unit, which was then again similar. In groups or as homework, some case studies on interesting marketing cases were worked on, for example a case study on the “brand” Lady Gaga.In International Marketing Studies we did not write a midterm or a final. At the beginning, groups were drawn that had to give 4 presentations in the semester. Chengcheng always let us know at very short notice when the presentations would take place and never gave us a structure. Since the majority of the course participants came from the USA and the Americans traveled through Europe almost every weekend, most of the presentations were then prepared at the last minute. The preparation was really always a mess. Chengcheng’s rigorous evaluation and high expectations came as a huge shock to many after the initial presentation. In the course of time, however, one has adjusted to their type and approach, so that the next presentations were also much better. It was important to Chengcheng to provide us with real issues. For example, we had to develop a Louis Vuitton Christmas campaign that, thanks to Chengcheng’s good connections, was passed on to a Louis Vuitton employee who then rated it and gave us feedback. For a Project with a real estate agency for luxury properties from Barcelona Chengcheng invited them to give a lecture with us and interviews were also carried out so that we should see them as our “customers” and develop a concept for them. The 4 group presentations each counted 10%. Participation and attendance were not included in the final grade. The last presentation was a solo presentation that counted 60%. But since the end of the semester came very suddenly again and it was impossible for 30 course participants to present their concept, Chengcheng changed the concept once again. Everyone had to send her the presentation and write it down and could present it voluntarily for 5 minutes. The presentation was therefore not rated at all and only led to additional points.

As you can see, this course was very chaotic and I could write a novel here. Due to the practical relevance, the interesting projects and personal contributions from Chengcheng, the course was nevertheless instructive and I was able to take a lot with me. Chengcheng is genuinely interested in getting students excited about working in marketing. After Christmas, for example, she sent an email to the entire course with an offer for an internship at Louis Vuitton.

Spanish Elementary

You can choose either the 45-hour Spanish course or the 90-hour course that takes place every day. I chose the 45-hour one.

An online test must be completed beforehand, in which the previous knowledge is checked in order to determine the language level and then to be placed in the correct course. If you have no previous knowledge, the test is skipped and you will be placed in the Spanish beginner course. Since I already had Spanish in school, I was, to my amazement, placed in the Low Intermediate (B1 level). I always had Spanish on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:40 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. But it quickly became apparent that the test was not that accurate. In the first Spanish lessons, the lecturers carry out a few more tests to determine the level of the students. After that, a number of students switched to another Spanish course, including myself. I was recommended to change the Spanish course to level A2.But since we were only 6 people in total, this course was really very intensive and I was able to definitely improve my Spanish.We stuck to the book very closely, but also did a lot of speaking exercises. We had several Spanish tests during the semester in which reading comprehension, listening comprehension, written expression and speaking skills were tested. All of this flowed into the final grade along with participation, homework and attendance. What counted most was the final exam, which consisted of a grammar, a written and an oral part. The final exam was definitely doable and really not difficult. Some of my friends, some of whom were even in a Spanish course with 30 participants, did not find it particularly effective and were very annoyed in retrospect, mainly because of the high financial cost (1000 €). Since I really wanted to improve my Spanish, I am glad that I chose the course. The course is actually quite expensive, so I am convinced that for the money you can certainly take a more intensive Spanish course with another provider.

6. Comparison to our courses

Compared to the courses in Germany, the courses in Barcelona were even more practice-oriented. Much less material was dealt with, but it was always enriched with interesting practical experience and tips from the lecturers. I found the level of my events to be lower than in Germany. However, some courses, such as International Business and Emerging Markets, are said to have been more demanding and complex. The effort in my courses was low and definitely feasible. I never sat on my homework for long and only had a midterm exam. The preparation for the finals was the most complex, but definitely not to be compared with the exam preparation in Germany.I still had a lot of free time and I wasn’t stressed about exams. The small courses and the classroom setting made you feel more like you were in school. The fact that there was homework, the oral participation and attendance were assessed, reminded even more of the school days and was initially a big change for most Germans. The courses are all held in English, so you should have a good command of English in order to be able to follow the course content.The events in Germany are much more theoretical and science-oriented. Some theories learned in Barcelona, ​​especially in the field of psychology, sounded very questionable to me in terms of their empirical foundation and would certainly not have been taught in Germany. The Study Abroad Program is particularly good with regard to the development of intercultural skills and cultural understanding. I really got a lot of insights into different cultures and my desire to travel and interest in foreign cultures was increased even more. My course combination was very varied and I was very satisfied with my courses and lecturers.

7. Statement of costs and financing options

A semester abroad represents a high financial expense, which is a deterrent at first. One has but definitely some ways the costs reduce or get grants. At first I really wanted to do my semester abroad in the USA, but that was way too expensive for me, so I decided to go to Spain. I have not regretted the decision!

The expenses for home and leisure are in their own hands, so it is difficult to say how much each individual ultimately spends. The same applies to excursions and trips. In general, food prices are to be equated with those in Germany. Going out is about as expensive as in Germany.

I went on a couple of trips during the semester. This is a good idea, because Friday is always free. So I went to San Sebastian, Valencia and Rome during the semester and went on a few day trips (Girona, Tarragona, Sitges, Montserrat…). As a result, I spent a lot on travel. Since I went out a lot more often and wanted to really discover the city of Barcelona, ​​I also spent more on free time than in Germany.

In general, however, you should also take the time and enjoy life in Barcelona. Especially the non-Europeans were in a different place almost every weekend and therefore often did not get much of the Spanish culture.

Here is a rough list of the costs:

Deposit + 3 courses + Spanish course 3010 €
apartment 400 – 500 € monthly
flight Approx. 150 €
Monthly Expenses (free time, shopping, eating, going out, traveling) Depending on your own lifestyle

Even if the semester was a high financial expense, the experience was simply priceless!

Funding options:

It is advisable to apply for BAFÖG abroad. The assessment limit is a lot higher here and the BAFÖG office pays the tuition fee up to € 4600 in full (without repayment) and you also receive a monthly amount. Unfortunately I didn’t get one.

There are a few scholarships that one can apply for. However, you should inform yourself in good time, as the application deadline for some scholarships expires well in advance.

You can apply for the DAAD scholarship through the university, where you will receive a travel allowance. Usually everyone gets this.

In some cases, the university also offers free places that you can apply for.

I applied for the MicroEDU Scholarship and would recommend anyone going abroad with MicroEDU to do so. A scholarship of 1000 euros is awarded per department. In the application, you should present your motivation and expectations of the course in a medium of your choice. There are no limits to creativity. I already had a lot of fun processing the application and triggered a huge motivation kick. Once you get inside yourself and really become aware of what you are hoping for from your stay abroad, you can hardly wait for it to finally start. The effort has paid off and I was thrilled to receive the MicroEDU scholarship for my department.

Before the semester abroad, a telephone interview was done in which I introduced myself and disclosed my reasons for the semester abroad, as well as my expectations and my plans to use the money. This was in an article in which the semester scholarship presented, were published on the MicroEDU page. Read more student reviews on Jibin123.

Another interview was carried out in the semester in which I reported on my previous experiences.

8. Professional and personal experience

The semester abroad in Barcelona has brought me a lot, both professionally and personally. I can recommend everyone to take the chance of a semester abroad. I enjoyed every day of the semester abroad to the full and would have had no problem staying any longer!

For me the time is one of the best of my life. It was a great experience to experience the Spanish culture.The Spaniards are mostly very friendly and open and enjoy their life much more than most Germans. Punctuality and the attitude to work are frightening at first, but you learn very quickly to get involved with the new culture. For most Spaniards, family and friends take priority over work and luxury. Going out and spending time with loved ones is more important than working all day. I found out for myself that you should definitely take time for yourself and your friends and family, rather than career and work, and have been living much more consciously ever since. After you have successfully mastered situations such as looking for an apartment or some communication problems, this has a positive effect on self-confidence and self-confidence. Before starting the semester abroad, I had some doubts and fear of being homesick or of not being able to cope with the situation in a foreign country. These were completely unfounded. I really haven’t been homesick in the whole time and have always felt good.When there were problems, I met so many helpful people. Since then, I have trusted myself a lot more and look forward to further stays abroad or longer trips.

Since the “Pre-established Study Abroad Program” is very international, I found it very interesting to get to know other cultures besides Spanish. For example, I made friends with a Korean woman and always found it very interesting to learn more about the way of life and attitudes in South Korea. Things that we take for granted are by no means taken for granted in other cultures. You definitely learn to deal with other cultures, which is particularly advantageous in the age of globalization.

I was very satisfied with my choice of course and thus had very varied, different courses.

The lecturers were always able to bring many practical examples with them and give us some tips for our working life.

I can only recommend everyone to leave their comfort zone, think outside the box and gain a foothold in a foreign country. Even if it is difficult at first, there are so many great experiences and challenges waiting for you. Those who master all of this can only grow personally, professionally and culturally and broaden their horizons.

Study in Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 4

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