Hi, my name is Taylor Hoing and I´m from Wenatchee, WA, I will be graduating from the UW Business School with a focus in Finance and Accounting after studying abroad for a semester here in Pamplona, Spain. Studying at the Universidad de Navarra is much different than being at UW. Most classes are taught in Spanish, but some business classes and few others are offered in English. Being a native English speaker like myself and barely studying Spanish in high school, I knew basically no Spanish before I arrived in Spain. I found it very difficult to get around without knowing Spanish. Spain is different than most other countries in Europe where a large majority of the population speaks English and doesn’t mind doing so. Here in Spain, other than students, most people don´t speak English and if they do they speak English most people won´t because they want you to speak Spanish while in Spain.
This made trying to get to the school, finding an apartment to live in, and finding other necessities quite difficult. Luckily for me, when I arrived here the other student from UW, Jon Geyer, had already been here for a week and was quite fluent in Spanish. He was able to help me get settled and find the necessities. I strongly recommend knowing at least a little bit of Spanish if you want to study abroad in Spain or have a strong desire for adventure.
Another large difference here at Universidad de Navarra is trying to get your class schedule figured out. This can be a very frustrating process. Here in Spain no information is organized nicely and timely, and there is no MYUW where you can get a class time-schedule. During orientation you are given a handout that has last year´s schedule for Business classes that are offered in English and Spanish. Then you are told that the class list this year is only similar to last years, but not all the classes will be the same. This is only for the business school, if you want to take classes in other departments you have to go to that department and talk to a bunch of different people to try and find someone who knows what classes are being offered. Most international students are freaked out trying to get their schedules in order before classes begin, but the teachers know how the process works.
So basically it’s not a big deal if you attend classes the first week and sometimes even the second week, this is the time to figure when classes are offered and if you want to take the class. Much different than at UW. Business classes seem to be taught similarly to UW, except that there are less group projects here and the final exam is a higher percentage of your grade.
It may seem that Spain is a difficult place for Americans, but it´s also a great chance to enjoy a vastly different lifestyle. It can be annoying and even frustrating at times, but between all the great friends that you meet and all the new experiences that you have it makes it all worthwhile. I highly recommend living with other Spanish students while you are in Spain. I live with three other Spanish guys and the friendships and camaraderie that we’ve already had has been great. Also it can be easy to miss out on the Spanish culture sometimes because you are hanging out with many international students all the time and not so many Spanish students. When you live with Spanish guys they make sure you don´t forget. Spain is great, and I didn’t even tell you about all the great traveling I’ve done throughout Europe and Spain itself. Ciao.
P.S. Make sure you have an opinion on the most recent political issue in America when you come to Spain. All I hear over here is ¨Obama vs. McCain¨ and ¨what do you think about the Economic crisis.¨