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04.08.2017

My Erasmus year in "Spain".

by Cornelia Länger

Video in German.

 

Immersing myself entirely in the "Spanish culture", getting to know the country and its people, experiencing a lot of new things. I always knew that an Erasmus year would enrich my personal and professional life. But I didn't know where it would finally take me[1] - this is how I ended up in a part of Spain that isn't one: Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. Instead of Spanish fiestas, sangría and castellano[2], which I had learned about during my studies, I was confronted with heavy protests against the government's austerity measures at the university campus. The country was caught in a deep economic crisis. Many people had lost their jobs and flats, many of them were sleeping on the streets and in bank lobbies. Catalan flags had been hoisted on nearly every house as a sign for the independence movement in the region. One of my professors even opposed himself to teach his course in what he called a "foreign language" (Spanish).

During my Erasmus year I could experience the current problems of the local population closely, but what is more: I got to know many interesting people from all over the world and found new friends. I could improve my Spanish skills, especially my verbal communication skills, because I expressed myself in this language at university and in my free time every day. I would not like to miss my experiences in Catalonia, because they left a deep impact and made me grow as a person. 

My advice on studying abroad for some time:

  • Don't get stressed if something does not turn out exactly as planned - your plans will probably change several times (e.g. the choice of courses, flat/accommodation). Take it easy. Accept the opportunities you get. You can't plan every detail of your stay from beginning to end, in many countries this just isn't possible.
  • Be open for new experiences and try to get to know your new home city as much as possible - only then will you gain a broad picture of the people, language, country and culture. This way you'll be able to understand how people really live in this part of Europe.
  • Don't despair if you can't follow a course as you usually can "at home". Many professors show consideration for your situation, as they know you come from a different country. They will most likely react to your questions or understand it if you can't perform a task straightaway.
  • Show interest in everything you are shown or offered!
  • Keep away from rigid group formations, Erasmus parties or Erasmus events, German-Austrian groups (risk of decoupling!) and don't seperate yourself from the local community! Otherwise you better stay at home ;-)
  • Shared flats aren't only a cheap option - you also learn to live together with people from different countries!

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[1]My number one priority was Granada. But I got a place in Barcelona.
[2]the Spanish language