I chose Spain for my exchange semester because I wanted to expand my scope and interact with a number of people from foreign countries in my life. I’m so blessed to stay here because Barcelona has a nice people, weather, beach, useful public transportation, a lot of museums, famous tourist spots and so many.
ESCI-UPF is located in the center of Barcelona, Catalonia. I am staying with my Spanish host grandmother, 25 minutes away on foot from ESCI-UPF so that I can easily access to the university as well as famous tourist spots such as Sagrada Familia, Arc de Triomf, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, Güell Park and so on.
Regarding to education system, the education here in ESCI-UPF is totally different from the one in my home university. Firstly, my university starts academic year in April to March while ESCI-UPF starts it in September. Also, ESCI-UPF has three trimesters, which means only 10 weeks in each trimester. I’m feeling that time here flies so quickly. If professor assigns you some works, you’d better start off as soon as possible. Secondly, in Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan, I learn in a huge room in my university with a lot of students. Normally there are around 200 students in each class depending on subjects and we, students rather listen to what professors teach than participate. While, professors in ESCI-UPF ask students and students answer to the professors, which is more like participation class. I found this is good because both professors and students can know how they understand and correct the misunderstanding. Finally, in terms of class, it differs from ones of my home university. In ESCI-UPF, every classes (4 ETCS or 6 ETCS) provide a lecture (120 min) and a seminar (55min) a week. I think the lecture here is not different from what I have back to my university, yet I did not take something like this seminar in Japan. I have to do many works in seminar either individually or in a group but also I can practically learn business so I like it. I wish I have this kind of thing in my university. In addition to above, teachers I met here are so helpful and supportive. I do not have any wary about them at all.
About a buddy program and ESN, I appreciated a buddy program and ESN organization when I first came to Barcelona. I knew no one and felt lonely. However, I could get a Spanish nice buddy to support my Barcelona life. She is so nice, busy, energetic, international soul and cute girl. Every time I faced problems, she gave me her hands. Without her, I could not start enjoying here. ESN is the student organization for Erasmus students. They offered many activities to discover new friends and city. I could know many friends from their activities.
In Barcelona, metro and bus runs everywhere and if you are under 25 years old, you can get a T-jove card 3 months for 105 EUR to go anywhere you want in zone 1. In Barcelona, everything I need just gather in zona 1, I cannot live without this T-jove card but I also recommend to walk this nice and beautiful city to discover new.
Before I came to Barcelona, I could not make myself understood in Spanish at all, however, there are many people who can speak English in Barcelona. That really helped me. In Japan, we have only one official language, Japanese. In contrast, there are more than one language in Spain, which was so interesting to me. In Barcelona, they speak Catalan as well as Spanish and some public signs are in Catalan. I was lack of even Spanish so these signs are sometimes challenge to be honest. One more thing which made me annoyed is lots of pocket pickers in Barcelona. They are so professional that I could not notice them. I did not expect that. However, people here in Barcelona are so nice to everyone, which is the best thing I found so far.
About daily life, I live near city center so that I’ve never felt any stress on public transportation. Culturally, Spaniard people are more active in the night than in the morning so that transportation, shops, cafe and restaurant are open late. But I needed to be careful with “siesta” time in Spain. From around 15-18h, most shops and restaurants are close. Additionally, people have Sunday off and do not work so there are almost no one in the street on Sunday. I felt like I’m not in Barcelona because on weekly day, there are crowded with Spaniard people and tourists here in Barcelona.
In short, I love this beautiful city and people.