University: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Field of study: Business
Study type: semester abroad
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
The state Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (short: UAB) is a Spanish university not far from Barcelona. The main campus is in Bellaterra, around 30 km from the Catalonian capital. It offers a total of 77 courses for currently 51,000 enrolled students. Check liuxers.com to see GCD study abroad opportunities.
However, the Bellaterra campus is only interesting for the local students, as the foreign students have their courses either at the St. Pau campus or in the Eixample, so one must also be aware in advance that they only study with other foreigners and not being able to enjoy the benefits of studying with locals.
But I also saw the advantage of being able to get to know many different cultures at once and, above all, to improve my English, since you mostly study together with English native speakers.
This campus is located in the Eixample town of the same name, right in the heart of Barcelona. It is all the more gratifying for us students that the majority of the courses take place here. The building itself is not a campus in the classic sense, but is reminiscent of a normal residential complex and is therefore quite inconspicuous, but modernly equipped and the central location makes it possible to use even short lunch breaks for small shopping tours or tapas. The large and well-known Passeig de Gracia, where you can find exclusive shops and endless tapas bars, is only a 2-3-minute walk away. Another attraction is the famous Gaudi house, which is also located directly on Passeig de Gracia.
St Pau campus
Anyone who sees the building on the St. Pau campus will immediately understand why it is so nice to be able to study there. It’s a beautiful old building and the campus hosted both the introductory classes and the beginner level Spanish courses. There is also a large library with internet access, which is ideal for learning.
It can happen that you have to visit both campuses in one day, which is absolutely no problem due to the good metro connection. The two campuses are only a good 20 minutes apart and the courses are integrated into the timetable in such a way that students have no problems reaching the courses on time.
What is particularly noteworthy about this campus is that one of the absolute sights of Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia, is in the immediate vicinity.
Pre-Established Study Abroad Programmes
The UAB offers a specially developed, tried-and-tested program for foreign students, the so-called “Pre-Established Study Abroad Programme”.
Only foreign students take part in this program, so you don’t have any Spanish fellow students in your courses. It is striking that most of the students come from the States, followed by German students. Students of Russian, Brazilian, Chinese and Korean nationality are sparsely represented.
In this program you can choose between specialist courses in the areas of politics, economics, business and optionally a language course (a total of 9 different levels are offered). You have the option of choosing at least two or a maximum of five courses.
The academic year, or semester, differs in time from those on the regular Belaterra campus, as they have been adapted to the international context. A semester has a total of 15 weeks and a course includes 45 hours. All specialist courses are taught in English and not, as is usually the case, in Catalan or Spanish.
A detailed list of all specialist courses offered can be found here:
Since I personally decided to spend a semester abroad very spontaneously, the normal application process via my university was no longer an option for me, as this should take place at least six months before departure.
Instead, I had to look for alternatives. Since it was already May 2013, it was at least clear to me that it would be a country in Europe, since the time between departure would not be long enough to take care of things like visas, language tests and looking for a place to live in countries like the USA, China or Australia to manage.
So I chose Spain, Barcelona to be precise.
While searching the internet I came across www.MicroEdu.com, which I found very appealing. MicroEdu is a placement agency that is now very well known, with over 200 universities in more than 36 countries, which “supervise” the entire organization and process of the application process and act as a contact person in all situations. This type of mediation was interesting for me, because they not only mediate, but also actively advise and respond very well to the wishes and preferences of the applicants. MicroEdu has its own contact person for the individual countries/continents, who have visited most universities themselves and know the advantages and disadvantages. At all times I had the feeling that I was being given honest and competent advice. I would like to particularly praise that my personal contact for Spain, Tatjana Maier, could really be reached very quickly at any time. The personal contact on the phone was always warm and tried very hard and every e-mail was answered quickly.
It is also nice that there are several testimonials from former graduates for the individual universities, which also relentlessly discuss negative aspects. This kind of authenticity really convinced me. For all those who are now wondering where the catch is, I can reassure you that there is none. MicroEdu is completely free of charge. The foreign universities benefit from the cooperation agreements and that they are represented by MicroEdu in Germany. The site also offers a small overview of various financing and scholarship options.
It was a huge help, especially for me, who didn’t have much time left to apply. In retrospect, I can really advise anyone who decides to spend a semester abroad at short notice and wants to benefit from the regular enrollment deadlines to seek help from MicroEdu.
Evaluation of my chosen courses
Managerial Skills with Ms. Maydo Arderio
This was my personal favorite among the courses chosen, which was mainly due to the extremely competent lecturer. Through many personal experiences in her long professional career, she has shared practical examples and stories with us.
The feedback from the entire course was consistently positive, so I can warmly recommend anyone who is interested in the following topics to take this course.
The main topics discussed were, for example, the interpersonal contact and behavioral patterns of employees and management and how one can lead particularly successfully. Conflict management was a central topic as well as psychological backgrounds in order to better understand certain situations and to be able to act accordingly.
It should be particularly emphasized that a large number of role-playing games were incorporated into the lessons. As a result, the previously learned theory is put directly into practice and what has been learned can be applied immediately. This special way the lecturer organizes her lessons means that a lot really sticks in your mind and you can remember the material you have learned with the help of practical examples.
International Marketing Strategies with Ms. Myriam Hikimura
I particularly liked this course because of its practical relevance. A case study was planned for each individual event, which was to be worked out briefly in advance and which was presented in detail by a specific “group of experts”. Afterwards, interesting and instructive questions were discussed and worked on with the entire course, so that the learning effect was particularly high here.
As you can easily see from the name of the course, it is about marketing strategies in an international context, taking into account a wide variety of cultural backgrounds.
A great challenge was the group project work, in which a completely new product for the Spanish market was to be implemented in Spain. This project was worked on continuously throughout the semester and the results were really great in all groups, here you could apply and internalize a lot of what you had learned.
International Business with Ms. Pilar Puig
In this course, the basics of international trade relations are again discussed in detail with regard to political, economic and, above all, cultural circumstances. It was useful here that a lot of knowledge from the first semesters was refreshed again and that this knowledge could be incorporated directly using the numerous case studies that were processed weekly.
The workload was very high due to the numerous taxes, but there were no special demands that a German student could not meet.
I can only recommend this course to a limited extent, as I missed the mental challenge and was disproportionate to the workload. Incidentally, many students from my course shared this view and the collective agreed that this was mainly due to the lecturer. So if it’s possible to switch courses during the first “switch week” to get a different instructor, I would recommend it.
Internal language course at the UAB
Any student is free to take this course. I didn’t inquire about alternatives at local language schools beforehand, but I heard from some fellow students that these are usually a bit cheaper. If you have a limited budget and want to save a little more, you should definitely inform yourself in advance and compare prices. The main advantages of the internal language course are that it fits well with the timetable and there is less coordination effort. I found it very good that you could change levels up to 2 weeks after the start of the course. Before the start of the semester, a test is filled out online, through which you are divided into different groups. Nevertheless, it can of course happen
Overall, I rate my course as quite good. We were a fairly manageable group of 13 people, so role play/dialogue was effective. However, at times I felt that the content could have been tightened a bit to make progress faster, but that’s just my personal feeling.
My general conclusion about the courses
I found the small group size of about 15-20 students per course to be a particular advantage. Above all, the dialogue between lecturer and student was very much emphasized in every single lesson and encouraged continuous thinking and cooperation.
This was also promoted by the midterm exams, which took place at the end of October. At this point in time, the first larger group work was handed in and one had already deeply internalized some things that were later helpful during the final exams.
Especially the group work and projects have greatly expanded my soft skills! It is actually a challenge to work with 5-6 people from completely different nations, since everyone has a different understanding of the topic of punctuality, for example, which made some of the German students shake their heads.
A change made attendance compulsory for most students. Unlike in Germany, we had compulsory attendance in all courses, which was actually checked at the beginning of each lesson. All in all, one can say that the entire atmosphere was “school-like” because of this, among other things. In retrospect, however, I can say that I still appreciate not having lost myself in the anonymity that prevails at some universities in Germany, but having got to know the advantages of small groups and personal addresses by the lecturers.
In the following I will try to provide a rough overview of the monthly costs in Barcelona so that any future students or interested parties have a rough idea of what to expect from a financial point of view and what they can expect.
At the UAB in the “Pre-established Study Abroad Programme” each individual course costs €777 (6 ECTS). In order to be able to be credited (at my HS) as a main subject, at least 3 specialist courses (a total of 18 ECTS) must be taken. In addition, the Spanish course also costs €777; this contains a total of 12 ECTS.
Overview of the tuition fees:
3 x €777 per specialist course (total as SPF) = €2,331
Optional: language course at €777 = €3,108
flights = €140 – €200
There are now many cheap providers such as Ryanair or Vueling that offer flights at affordable prices. However, caution is advised here, as many smaller things cause surcharges, so that the initially low price is quickly put into perspective. Especially with luggage you should keep your distance from the cheap airlines. Many of my fellow students have had very bad experiences with it. Furthermore, many flew back to Germany during their stay (e.g. because of exams, important family events, etc.) and this is exactly where it became apparent that flights from low-cost providers were often canceled at short notice.
Germanwings offers transparent booking and cost accounting; Lufthansa is also always a safe provider. With the latter you can pay more attention to special offers.
All in all, you can expect upwards of €140 for a return flight with the slightly better airlines.
The low-cost airlines cost around €100 (I included airport transfers in this figure, since these are usually a bit out of the way), but only hand luggage is included here, which is also handled very strictly.
Additional health insurance = 0 €
Since Spain is part of the EU, there were no additional costs for my statutory health insurance. All I had to do was to state by telephone that I would be staying abroad for a longer period of time. In addition, I was informed that in the event of a hospital stay / doctor’s visit, I should usually advance the costs and then submit the receipts to my health insurance company in order to initiate reimbursement. It is therefore important to always have a small financial cushion in your back.
Telephone costs / smartphone = from 8 €
These are very cheap in Spain. The cheapest prepaid tariff is currently offered by “Tuenti” and starts at just under €8 per month, including 1 GB.
Housing costs = 350 – 450 €
Depending on the district, you can get a small room from €320. But these are really very small, about 9/10 m² (I will go into the apartment search/situation again separately). For a room of around 12-15 m² you should budget around €400. Overall, however, one can say that the prices start at €350 and are within the normal range up to €450.
Metro card = €34
I was surprised at how cheap public transport is here. A 10-ticket costs €9.80 (can be purchased at every single metro station). Of course, the monthly ticket or the so-called “T-Jove”, which is valid for 3 months, is more attractive for us international students. “T-Jove” is only valid in connection with an identity card/passport (the document or number given when purchasing the T-Jove) and costs €110 for 3 months. So a good 33 € per month, which is really cheap compared to Germany.
Groceries = ~€200
Since Germany is a discount nation and is generally considered one of the countries where you can shop cheapest, it is not surprising that Spain is slightly more expensive. Of course, something like this can only be judged very subjectively, but it is true that groceries are generally more expensive.
I think that €200 is a realistic plan for average groceries.
free time activities
- Gyms: The cheapest gyms start from €20, but you should generally expect around €50.
- Going out in discotheques: Various Facebook pages offer free admission options, which you should definitely take advantage of, as the admission prices are usually around €15. Drinks are also a bit more expensive in the various clubs than in Germany.
- Going out for restaurants / tapas: In Spanish culture, eating and drinking out of town is very important, so people like to go out often. At lunchtime, almost every restaurant offers special lunch menus, which are around + – 10 €. So it is certainly not more expensive than in Germany, but since you eat out there more often, especially when the weather is good, it is definitely a financial aspect that is not to be scoffed at.
First of all, you should definitely be prepared for the fact that you will not find the German standards in Spain when it comes to living conditions and hygiene.
Another point that is unusual for us Germans is that many rooms in Spain do not have a window on the outside, but are on the inside towards the stairwell. It is therefore important to pay attention to “interior” (= window on the inside) or “exterior” (= window on the outside) in the apartment descriptions.
The life of the Spaniards mainly takes place outdoors when the weather is mostly good, which is why not too much value is usually attached to the living conditions.
Good websites for looking for accommodation are www.wg-gesucht.de or www.pisocompartido.es – many rooms for students are offered here.
If you have the opportunity, you should definitely travel to Barcelona beforehand and have a “sightseeing weekend”, as the photos very often deviate from reality!
Incidentally, the UAB offers its pre-established program participants its own rental file with a large number of rooms; This of course facilitates the room search and, above all, the mediation and contact with the owner.
I lived in the town of Eixample, which I highly recommend as it’s close to the university and also centrally located (15 minute walk to Passeig de Gracia). In general, however, I can give the tip to make sure that there is a metro station in the immediate vicinity. The metro network in Barcelona is well developed and you have no problem reaching any part of the city quickly and easily.
My verdict on Barcelona
To anyone who still has doubts about doing a semester abroad, I can only join the voices of all those who have returned and encourage them to take this step!
Although I “only” stayed in Europe, I got to know a completely new culture intensively; as would never have been possible with a 2 week holiday.
I came back from this semester abroad much more confident and relaxed because I have learned to deal with many new and unforeseen situations.
Personally, I have become even more open to other nations and have been able to take a lot with me on an interpersonal level.