Elizabeth – Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – Spain
Semester 2, 2022
Bachelor of Business (International Business Major/ Marketing Minor)
For me participating in an Exchange was without a doubt a life goal that I was lucky enough to achieve. I decided on Spain as I wanted to learn Spanish and immerse myself in the Spanish culture, while also having easier access to the rest of the EU.
- Save, Save, Save.
While Spain is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other European countries, it’s always good to be over-prepared. Exchange is a period of time when you should truly grasp every opportunity. Most Aussies I knew saved at least $15,000 so they could have the freedom to travel! So, my big advice is to save hard and don’t forget to check out the OS-Help loan (if needed).
- Student Exchange Application
A big tip for the exchange application is to be organised, hand things in advance and remember it’s okay to reach out for help. Throughout this process, QUT Global assisted with various questions I had!
Also, having a flexible degree with electives available helps make the course selection process easier, however, do not lose hope if you have a strict degree. I know various students with more strict degrees who were able to organise a course plan with QUT Global.
- Some recommended apps
- Revolut Banking
- SpanishDict, Google Translate, Anki App, Busuu
- UC3M app
What to Expect
UC3M (Getafe campus)
The main difference I found with UC3M vs QUT was that UC3M was more casual, with teachers sometimes arriving late or classes being randomly cancelled. There was more participation expected in class, more oral speeches, and group work. While it took a bit to adjust too, this helped in the long term with making friends and growing confidence!
Finding a place to stay in a major city like Madrid can be a bit nerve-racking. I used sites like Spotahome and Housing Anywhere to search for a room. Try not to leave it to the last minute as it limits options. I highly recommend getting a place with communal areas (lounge room/ communal balcony etc) because that helps in being able to get to know your roommates! Also, I recommend not staying on the UC3M Getafe campus because while it is cheaper, the commute and the train times really interfere with being able to go into the city whenever you’d like.
English being a globalised language meant that you could get around Madrid with limited Spanish. However, I highly recommend learning some basic Spanish before arriving. Moreover, take the opportunity to learn Spanish in Spain, it’s an awesome and immersive way to learn a language and there are a variety of options available: from Spanish classes at UC3M to various Spanish language programs within Madrid.
People make the place!
Not to be too cheesy but people make the place. The thing about being on exchange is that you get the pleasure of meeting other exchange students from all over the world. You are all in the same boat: in a new place and looking to meet people. So don’t hesitate to start up a conversation!
I recommend joining different Erasmus groups on Facebook or following UC3M/ESN/Smart Insiders/City Life Madrid on Instagram. These are all great ways to keep up to date on the different events and to chat with other exchange students. Surround yourself with good people and the good moments will keep on coming! By putting myself out there, I’ve made many amazing friends here from all over the world. I was lucky enough to have had the most amazing roommates who I shared fun adventures with, and I know will be lifelong friends. Making friends can be nerve-racking but if you do your best to be kind, positive, and friendly, I’m sure you too will be able to make many lifelong friends too.
Exploring & Travelling
Being in Spain gives you an awesome opportunity to travel to various nearby countries in Europe. Be it through Euro-rail, road trips, overnight buses, Bla Bla Car, etc. Travel does not necessarily need to break the bank, there are lots of discounts you can get through programs like ESN and plenty of cheap hostels available.
While travelling to other countries is awesome, Spain itself has a lot to offer. From the stunning northern coastline to fun locations like Valencia and Barcelona, to beautiful cities such as Sevilla. There are even plenty of day trips you can take from Madrid, such as Toledo, Segovia, El Escorial, etc.
Don’t forget to explore Madrid itself! Filled with brilliant tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace of Madrid, Prado Museum, and Retiro Park. With beautiful and lively neighbourhoods such as Malasaña, La Latina, Chueca, and Lavapies.
This period of your life is full of so many opportunities, challenges, and adventures. Take it all on and I have no doubt you do grow as a person. Moving halfway across the world, having to make new friends, learn a new language, and explore a new city. All these aspects helped in growing my confidence in myself and my choices. I also learned how to roll with the punches; to not let mistakes, embarrassing moments, or unexpected challenges bring me down. I would say this experience has made me more independent, resilient, and adventurous. Without a doubt going on exchange has been the best choice of my life so far and I truly believe this is an essential experience all students should have.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.