What makes an international student come to Barcelona and the UAB?
Is it the climate, Gaudí’s legacy, soccer, our lifestyle, the quality of teaching at the UAB or a combination of all of these factors? A selection of students who are currently enrolled in the Pre-Established Study Abroad programme reveal what prompted them to come.
While they studied at their home universities, Adrianna, Brandon, CeAnna, Jason, Nourhan, Runhao, Schuyler, Stephanie and Vikrant were advised by counsellors or by their relatives and friends that Barcelona and our university would be an excellent place to broaden their education and their perspective on life. Now that they are actually immersed in the academic semester, they continue to believe that coming was a good decision and have expressed their enthusiasm for their current life in Barcelona.
Naturally, they enjoy the classic attractions that the city has to offer, such as daytime and nighttime entertainment options, the marvellous architecture featuring the works of Gaudí, the parks - particularly, Ciutadella and Güell -, the temperate and sunny climate, grocery shopping at the city markets, the relaxed lifestyle, the warmth of its people… Soccer is also a key factor in the choice of Barcelona as a study abroad destination: Run Hao, a Chinese student who would like to specialize in Sports Management, chose Barcelona in order to watch Messi playing live, although he clarifies that he also knew beforehand that the UAB is one of the best universities in Spain. Another case in point is Vikrant, whose home university is Bentley in Massachusetts (USA). He is of Indian origin and is absolutely crazy about soccer. Before coming to Barcelona, he had only heard of Gaudí and the Camp Nou and, now that he is here, he is trying to see as many Barça matches as he can.
Notwithstanding, our international students are not only struck by the clichés which have made Barcelona a habitual destination for tourists. On the one hand, Schuyler, a student from Kentucky (USA), loves the way we dress and highlights the sense of fashion displayed by the city’s inhabitants. On the other hand, Adrianna, who is Cuban American and hails from Texas, appreciates the freedom which characterizes her life in Barcelona; as she explains, everyone here is treated as an adult once they turn 18. Our public transportation system is also highly valued: students feel it is safe and reliable.
Current issues in Catalonia
Most of the featured students have chosen to take Political Science courses. Surprisingly, some of them already knew about the political situation in Catalonia. Brandon, a North American student of Indian, British and Nigerian descent, had heard about the political prisoners and about the independence process in Catalonia and his choice of Barcelona was partly influenced by these issues. Another case in point is Jason, a North American student whose great-grandparents were Spanish and who is a student at Arizona State University (USA). He knew about the Catalan referendum for independence and the role that Catalonia plays as an economic engine in Spain. Even students who had no prior knowledge of these realities, such as CeAnna, who studies at the Liberal Arts College of Idaho (USA), have decided to take the course “Cultures without State: the case of Catalonia” and are discovering an interest in the topic.
Language and classes
Most students take Spanish classes, some of them to improve their level, some to begin their learning process. Even so, there are students like Nourhan, who majors in Anthropology and hails from Egypt, and who has decided not to enrol, trying to acquire notions of the language on her own and learning from people’s use of body language. Quite an original technique. Nevertheless, it might surprise us to learn that many international students consider our English level to be good enough to have a conversation with us.
Generally speaking, the students are especially enthusiastic about the teaching methodology of the Study Abroad programme. They think the professors make an effort to foster student participation, to make classes interactive and to deliver dense topics in such a way that they become interesting debates. According to them, classes are very dynamic and the high level which is required is remarkable.
The Study Abroad experience
Imagine a diverse, culturally rich city, with a dazzling architecture and an intense but relaxed lifestyle and couple it with a programme which features a participative and dynamic teaching methodology, and courses and subject matter which deal with the present and foster debate. All of this taking place in one of the best universities in the country. That is the Study Abroad experience.
“I’ve acquired a new perspective on the world and it has made me grow as an individual”; “it has helped me get out of my bubble”; “I have learned to appreciate cultural differences”, or, as Stephanie, from Canada, says, “it has forced me lo leave my confort zone”. All of these opinions support the idea that the experience at Study Abroad UAB is enriching, unique and unforgettable.