I recently asked some questions to my cousin about his experience with Erasmus. He went to Pamplona in Spain a few years ago.
1- Which were your motivations to leave the country?
My University allowed me to spend 2 years abroad. University staff emphasized the importance of studying abroad and getting an international experience. I knew that it would add a great value to my resume, plus I wanted to discover a new culture.
2- Why did you choose Spain ?
The main reason why I chose to go to Spain was to learn Spanish, to party and to eat tapas.
Then, I wanted to go to a sunny and warm country, but not too far from home.
Studying in Spain allowed me to benefit from a scholarship called Erasmus.
3- How did you feel your arrival?
I wasn’t alone. 3 other people from my University came with me to Pamplona. We were helping each other find accommodation, get our Spanish marks around the city and the University.
4- Was it difficult to find an accommodation?
It was really easy to find a flat. There were more people offering accommodation than people looking for it.
I found mine in 2 days. However it wasn’t what I expected and I get really disappointed.
My flatmates, an American and a Mexican, were not really open-minded, and didn’t want to communicate a lot.
It was the reason why I moved to another flat for the second semester which was much better.
5- Was it easy to make new friends?
Yes. I was really excited about meeting new people from so many different horizons. Many parties were organized to meet up the international students at the University.
6- How was your first day in this new University?
First, we had a meeting with all the International students. We had a presentation of the University. People show us buildings and tips to get comfortable the schedule, rooms, computer facilities, library. There was a really friendship atmosphere.
We get a university email address, and get informed about all things going on.
7- What was the main differences you could notice there?
The teaching system is not the same as in France. There are no tutorial classes, but only Lectures. There are not so many hours of class either.
8- What kind of classes did you take?
The same classes I would have undertaken in France. That means business administration courses: Finance, marketing, Supply chain management, Human resources, Consumer behavior…
9- Can you talk about Pamplona a little bit?
Pamplona was a really nice city with many parks, a very safe city. There were 2 Universities, so a lot of students.
To be honest Pamplona wasn’t the place to be if you wanted to have an extraordinary nightlife. There were not so many pubs and discos. And you had to share your nights between a little numbers of places.
People in Pamplona were pretty old. In the north of Spain, near the Bask Country people are quiet rude. They are not very friendly at a first glance. But if you start speaking with them, the talk can last hours and hours. Spanish people like talking. They are very communicative. They like to show you how their country is beautiful and how it’s good to live there.
10- About the food, any advice?
Tapas were really good, which are Spanish appetizers. The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them. Also, in some countries it is customary for diners to stand and move about while eating Tapas.
11- Now that you're back at home, can you tell us if this experience changed you?
Yes. It was the most enriching experience in my life. I became more responsible, and organized in my life. I developed my self confidence, independence and cross cultural skills.
12- Any advice for us?
Try to avoid French people. Try to get involved in many international events.
Visit the country, meet locals. Don’t be afraid of going abroad. You will not regret.