I took part in the pre-established program at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in the winter semester 2010 and have not regretted it for a second.
Barcelona is just an amazing city. Although I’ve been there before, it was even better than I remembered, because as a non-tourist you see and get to know a lot more than if you only spent a few days there. The city is not only incredibly beautiful, but also has a lot to offer. The beach is full, especially in summer, but never as full as you know it from the typical tourist places such as Mallorca or Rimini. Since the beach is right in town, you can get there quickly and easily from anywhere. I don’t have to say much about the weather itself, because I was just thrilled. In August and September it was still very hot and you could swim in the sea until October. November and December (and also January, because I stayed a little longer) were very mild and you rarely had to wear a jacket. Even in December we often sat on the beach without a jacket and indulged in a beer.
The pre-established program of the UAB takes place at 2 different “campuses” – both are fortunately located in the center of the city, so you don’t have to go to Bellaterra like all other UAB students. On the first day I was especially enthusiastic about the Sant Pau campus, which not only has an “expensive private university” flair (in a positive sense), but is also very beautiful. On the very first day you also got to know an incredible number of people, as this program is teeming with foreign students. Roughly I would say that 80% of the students are American, 15% German and another 5% come from elsewhere. But I found that rather positive, because I was able to improve not only my Spanish, but also my English. The courses themselves are relatively small (20-30 people), which I also found very positive because it made interaction and learning easier. I took 3 courses plus a Spanish course and I got there very well in terms of time, even if we had to attend most of the courses, which I was not used to from Germany. The course content was very interesting and even though I had heard a few things in Germany, I also learned a few new things. I particularly liked that the courses – also in contrast to my home university in Germany – were very practical, that means we worked on a lot of case studies and often had to do research and presentations. I thought it was a shame that you didn’t meet any Spaniards at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona which is abbreviated as UAB on abbreviationfinder.
Also: unbelievable. Barcelona has so much to offer in terms of nightlife that even after a few months you have neither seen it nor tired of it. I recommend staying away from the typical tourist bars right in the center, as these are usually very expensive, and I also recommend not ordering alcohol in the clubs (but drinking before), as everything is very expensive here too (beer around 5-7 Euro). We often went to the Oveja Negra, Ryan’s Pub, Cyrano Bar, Chupitos and the Xampaneria to pre-drink, all of which I can highly recommend because the prices are great and they are full of students. You get to know new people from all over the world almost every evening. In terms of clubs, we rarely went to the typical beach clubs because they are also extremely touristy and are not particularly good either. Apolo, on the other hand, has become my favorite club (especially on Mondays) and other clubs like Bikini and Razzmatazz also have a lot to offer. In terms of events, there was always a lot going on, for example the week-long festival “La Mercè”, at which numerous live bands play for free all over the city, there are wonderful fireworks on the beach every evening and much more.
On the one hand it is extremely easy to find an apartment in Barcelona (thanks to loco. es and Facebook), on the other hand you cannot expect the German standard of living here if you only have a limited budget. Many rooms are very small and even have no windows or only have a window facing the inner courtyard, which stifles any daylight in the bud. Therefore you should always pay attention to the word “exterior”, which means that you have a “normal” window to the outside. In my opinion, the Eixample district is perfect for living, as it is central and yet far from the hustle and bustle of tourists. I lived directly at the Sagrada Familia in a shared apartment with two Spaniards and one Pole, which was the ideal solution for me because it allowed me to improve my Spanish and speak English. And on top of that, my room, even though it was small, was
At first I had some concerns about the language, as my Spanish skills consisted almost entirely of “Hola” and “Que tal” and my Catalan was nonexistent. At Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, however, you get along well with English and thanks to my Spanish course and numerous conversations with Spaniards, Italians, French and other Erasmus students, I was able to improve my Spanish quickly. I also have to say that the prejudice that Catalans are very proud of their own language is not entirely true. You certainly get some Catalan national pride, so I have graffiti a few meters from my front door that says “Attention Tourist: You’re not in Spain, you’re in Catalunya” and of course the Catalans also have their own (interesting) national holiday, but nobody was unfriendly to me or only wanted to speak catalan when I spoke to him or her in spanish. As a result, I’ve had very good experiences there.
Unfortunately, what was negative were the “Ladrones”, the thieves in Barcelona. From my friends here, around 50% were stolen without lying, be it on the Ramblas, in the metro or in the clubs. So you quickly learn to hold your bag as close to your body as possible, which I always did – but I was probably inattentive for a moment, because my camera was stolen from me too.
I can absolutely recommend UAB’s Pre-Established Program. My expectations have not only been met, but even exceeded, and I had an incredibly great time here with many interesting experiences and I made many friendships. I will definitely come back if only for a few days.