The decision for the UAB was relatively easy for me; Barcelona itself is the best argument for the university. I found out about the courses I wanted to take and was able to meet the requirements for recognition of the semester abroad, and was happy when everything seemed to work out. The application phase started in September 2018. To do this, I sent the necessary documents to MicroEDU. The friendly staff arranged almost everything for me; I hardly had to worry about anything and was quickly given the preliminary approval, which is fixed with the transfer of the first part of the tuition fees.
So when I was permanently enrolled, I thought about the accommodation, but decided that September was still very early because I only wanted to search via local sites (equivalents to flat shares wanted), and usually a month in advance something is to be found. So I postponed the search to December. In the end, I found something through the Badi app, about three weeks before the start of the semester. I had a room in a shared apartment in the Barri Gòtic. Visit toppharmacyschools.org to get information about vocational training in Spain.
There wasn’t much else to prepare. Since Spain is in the EU, you do not need a visa, an identity card is sufficient for entry. Personally, I speak Spanish, but English is also great to get through in Barcelona.
2. Study in Barcelona
The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona is one of the most prestigious universities in Europe. It has different locations, with the main campus about half an hour outside the city center. The Study Abroad Program takes place in buildings in Eixample and Sant Pau, so it is pretty central. But that also means that you don’t study with Spaniards or regular students, but really only with exchange students, 80% from the USA.
I had taken five courses during the semester: Human Resources Management, Doing Business in Emerging Markets and International Finance were the equivalents to the courses at DHBW; Strategic Management of the Firm was my credit filler and Politics, I just chose War and Economics in the Age of Globalization.
Human Resources Management (Maydo Arderiu)
This subject teaches you many general skills that will help you find your place in the company. Maydo has experience in various areas, which is quickly clear in the lecture. She attaches great importance to active participation. During the semester you don’t write any exams, you just have to write one blog entry per hour on the topic and a marketing plan in which you apply everything you learned in the lecture and market yourself as an employee.
- 60% marketing plan
- 20% blog journey
- 20% participation and attendance
Doing Business in Emerging Markets (Isabel Martinez Cosentino)
Emerging markets are such an important part of today’s global economy and doing business there requires good cultural preparation. The lecture thus teaches the students about cultural differences and learns what to look out for when doing business with countries from certain cultural backgrounds. Isabel is also a great lecturer who has a lot of experience in this regard and was therefore able to tell us a lot first hand. We also had two speakers, one from Ivory Coast and one from India. I found that very exciting personally.
- 20% mid-term exam
- 20% final exam
- 20% entries
- 20% presentation
- 20% participation and attendance
International Finance (Myriam Hikimura)
Right from the start, Myriam, our lecturer, took into account that the students came from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some studied finance, for others it was their very first contact with finance. She always made sure that everyone understood and everyone came along. In terms of content, we learned from exchange rate markets to different types of hedging.
- 35% mid-term exam
- 35% final exam
- 10% presentations
- 20% attendance
Strategic Management of the Firm (Adriana Espinet)
Strategic Management was an exciting subject with a very motivated lecturer. This made the lectures a lot of fun, while the students learned to analyze where a company is positioned in its environment and where to start to get it to where you want it to be. Specifically, topics such as PESTEL analysis, Porter’s five forces, Porter’s diamond and strategies for maintaining the competitive advantage were dealt with.
- 45% 3 group assignments
- 10% final group case study
- 20% 2 partials
- 10% book review
- 15% participation and attendance
Politics, War and Economics in the Age of Globalization (Toni Raja)
This lecture was definitely the best subject I took. Historical connections since the end of the First World War were discussed and historical events explained, but also various philosophers from different schools with different ideologies, some of which were based on one another, to explain the world as it is today. Toni is a lecturer who is passionate about it and is one hundred percent familiar with the field. The lectures are characterized by discussions.
- 30% mid-term exam
- 30% 2 papers
- 20% participation
- 20% attendance
In addition to the lecture, the UAB also offered other events. For example, I was at a refugee event organized by the university, where first some organizations introduced themselves and described their work with asylum seekers, and later three refugees talked about their experiences. That was definitely a very exciting and interesting day.
3. Stay in Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain. This offers all kinds of activities and leisure activities. The city is very diverse and has a lot to offer culturally. On the one hand, there are of course a number of sights, such as the Sagrada Família, Park Güell, La Rambla, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, Montjuïc, Plaça de Catalunya, Camp Nou and some beaches. The Tibidabo amusement park offers a great view of the city.
I got to know a salsa / bachata group through the MeetUp.com site that I went to regularly. That’s how I came into contact with locals, which was particularly important to me. Since I already speak Spanish, I used the time and started learning Catalan. Otherwise, I recommend learning at least the basics of Spanish. Via tusclasesparticulares.com you can quickly find a tutor with whom you can learn languages. The city also has a lot to offer in culinary terms. There really is a bit of everything! Whether tapas, Italian, South American, sushi, humus and falafel, vegan…. you will definitely be full.
Anyone who is in a party mood will definitely find what they are looking for. There are a number of clubs for different styles of music. But there is also a lot to discover outside of Barcelona. Here it is worth renting a car and doing road trips north to the Costa Brava or south to Tarragona or Sitges. The latter is also quite easy to get to by train. We hiked up and then took the gondola down.
The culture of Catalonia is very interesting. I found the castells, the human towers, to be particularly exciting. You can find them regularly at festivals or parades and of course at the Dia dels Castells, which I have seen. The castellers, i.e. the participants, pull themselves up against each other and thus form a tower. That requires incredible strength and muscle tension. Traditional music is also played. The Catalans are a very proud people. They usually speak Catalan among themselves and celebrate their national festivals with great enthusiasm. This is also clearly noticeable in the independence movement in Catalonia.
4. Practical tips
Basically, as in any big city with a lot of tourists, it is important to be careful. Barcelona is no more dangerous than any other big city, and yet one shouldn’t be careless with valuables. For an apartment you don’t have to worry several months in advance, I got my room at short notice and was so central in the city center, the perfect location for me. I would not recommend Airbnb as you can find much cheaper offers on Idealista or Badu. If you don’t know the city at all, you can take a free walking tour to get an overview.
5. Personal evaluation
I would go to Barcelona again anytime! It’s just such a vibrant city, perfect for student life. I got to know so many people who I am still in contact with. The weather was also great for the time of year, sometimes we had already over 20 ° C in February.