Tired and sore, but also preparing for midterm exams, I just returned from a two day stretch of the Camino de Santiago. The Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James, is a pilgrimage that tens of thousands of people from all over the world make throughout the year. There are many paths, but one of the most common starts at Saint Jean Pied de Port, in southern France, and winds it’s way across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. This route normally takes more than 30 days to complete on foot. A student from Honduras and another exchange student from Taiwan accompanied me from the small town of Roncesvalles, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees, back to Pamplona. The bus ride to Roncesvalles took one and half hours, but the walk through small villages, highways, and hilly farmland took us about sixteen hours spread over two days. We shared sleeping quarters and the path with a diverse group of pilgrims: Aussies who were out for an adventure, a man from Barcelona who had a “compromiso” or a moral obligation to make the pilgrimage, as well as a trio from Valencia who were also taking the Camino a few days at a time.
Universidad de Navarra
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.¨
Hi, my name is Jon Geyer, and I am a senior in the University of Washington Business School focusing in Marketing and International Business. I am currently on exchange in Pamplona, Spain. Yes, it is where they do the running of the bulls. However, besides this festival the city is fairly small and is dominated by many students in one part of the city and other inhabitants in the old part of the city. The University resides on one part of the city, the new part, and many students live in the surrounding area. The Casco Viejo, the old part town has a very typical European look to it and is where the encierro (running of the bulls) occurs. This part of town has many different small bars and pubs and there is a higher concentration of Basque natives as well. Instead of tapas, in other parts of Spain, here they serve Pintxos, which are more or less small portions of the local cuisine. They are typically considered expensive as Pamplona is one of the most expensive cities in Spain.
The city is a very good size but after a while it can feel a bit too small. The international community of students is very large and very well organized, as far as parties We have special discounts on certain days in bars and discotecas, for example, on Wednesday we have Crazy Wednesday and we get into the best club in the world, Marengo, for free. The club actually isn’t that great, but its fun because we have a great group of friends. There are these three Portuguese guys who enjoy to party, and you can count on them always to be at the nearest bar or discoteca. Ricardo thinks he can dance… but he can’t. In all seriousness the international community is a lot of fun here. So despite the fact that there are only 2 of us from UW, I have many friends already.
The University is fairly new (only around 50 years old) but is considered one of the better business schools in Spain. It is a private university and run by Opus Dei, a very religious sect of the Catholic Church. This is one thing that I had to get used to. You cannot wear basketball shorts or any other type of sporting attire. Flip flops are prohibited and you need a security card to get into every single building on campus. Once accustomed, it is not a big deal, but a few times I was trying to print stuff and I forgot I was wearing athletic shorts, and I was not let in.
As far as living situation, I am very happy. I live with three Spaniards, two from Galicia (the northwest part of Spain) and one from Catalonia (near Barcelona). We eat our meals together, cook together, clean together and have a good time. I seriously recommend staying with students in Spain because you get a very good mix of learning the language, the slang, the food, and the culture. Here in Pamplona, (more…)