Caitlin – Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – Spain
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) / Bachelor of Business
My time in Madrid has been one I will always look back upon fondly and with great joy. It allowed me to meet so many new people that I would never have met and learn new lessons that if I had only studied in Australia, I never would have learnt.
Beginning my journey in Madrid
I put UC3M as my first option when applying for exchange as I was very interested in the Spanish way of life and wanted to be able to immerse myself in their culture. Having never been to Spain prior to beginning my studies, I was worried I may have found myself experiencing some culture shock and homesickness. However, when I first arrived, I knew I had chosen the right place to experience exchange. I arrived on the first of September and with summer still in full blast. The city was heaving with people out enjoying themselves with friends and family and taking in the sun.
Forming lifelong friendships
Whilst waiting to receive my keys from my landlord, I met 4 other exchange students from Germany, England and Australia as well, and remained friends with them throughout my time in Spain. My landlord only spoke Spanish, which I was not very good at when I first arrived, however, one of my new-found friends helped me out in signing my contract and conversing with the landlord. When I then arrived at my flat, in a great area in Madrid, I met my new housemates. I lived in a flat with 9 girls in total, from the USA, France, Italy and Germany. Once I met these girls, I knew I would we would create bonds and friendships that would last for years and they remained my closest friends whilst in Madrid, despite none of them attending the same university as me (there are over ten universities in Madrid). When I went to my orientation day at UC3M, I also immediately met friends from the UK, the USA and some fellow Australians. When I first began my classes, I also followed this same pattern of making friends from all over the world. When this happened, I knew I was never going to be lonely in this new city, as there were so many like-minded, young people around me who were in the same position. Everyone was wanting to meet new people and forge new friendships. This is perhaps my favourite thing to take away from my time on exchange, the people I have met who will benefit me no doubt in my career, with networking and such, but mostly the friends I have from all over the world. I now can travel to France, Germany, or the US, and know I have a friend to call upon. This is also why I’m so happy I chose to do my exchange in a European city, because of the ERASMUS network. Nearly every single night there is a planned event for students to meet other students and experience life in a new city. As well as this, there are planned trips away on weekends and always something fun to do.
Falling in love with the city and university
This ties in with the city itself, I absolutely loved Madrid. Despite it being a large, bustling city, I found myself very quickly getting to know the lay of the land and being able to get around without a map! I enjoyed the many museums and parks and tourist attractions but also being there for so long, I was able to relax and enjoy the day-to-day life. The laid-back culture of Spain is so easily moulded, and I found myself enjoying tapas and the local Tinto de Verano with friends often.
As well as the cultural and social aspects, I really enjoyed the Spanish approach to learning. I found it much more hands-on than learning at home, with no classes being recorded and teachers using chalkboards to write on! I found my subjects very interesting and believe I learnt a great deal with the different styles of teaching. I especially enjoyed one of my subjects, Emerging Countries, as it gave me a broad understanding of countries all over the world, with a more European view rather than an Australian view. The assessment at my university was much more spread out over the semester, opting for continuous assessment rather than solely mid-term and final assessment. This is something I enjoyed as it kept me focused each week rather than allowing me the opportunity to cram it all in at the last minute.
Overall, I can say that I am extremely grateful to have had this experience, for its ability to broaden my horizons and give me a new look at learning. Not only the lessons I learnt in the classroom but the real-world experiences of making new friends, living in a foreign country and getting out of my comfort zone.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.