A period of study abroad on ERASMUS can be a totally different (but almost always life-changing)
experience for everyone. I am going to give a brief overview of my personal ERASMUS experience:
10 months in the maths department of Universidad de Sevilla, Spain.
I completely fell in love with Seville and the surrounding area. Coming back to Coventry has been
quite a change from the sunny, orange tree lined cobbled streets of this beautiful, historical city!
Seville lies in the south of Spain in the region of Andalucía, one of the most popular areas of Spain
for tourists and the birthplace of many of the customs which spring to mind as being typically
“Spanish”, for example flamenco dancing, Spanish guitar, strong Catholicism, amazing olive oil,
sherry, Iberian ham, tapas (the bar rumoured to have been the inventor of tapas, “El Rinconcillo”, is
in Seville - worth a visit if you get the chance!) In Andalucía you can witness the traditional relaxed
Spanish way of life: Staying up extremely late drinking and eating tapas outdoors (because, unlike
here, it is warm enough to do that!); strong café con leche (coffee with hot milk) and toast with olive
oil and ham for a late breakfast; businesses closed for the entire afternoon; beer and wine being
cheaper options than water when you’re eating out; outdoor swimming pools; strong family values.
And there is a great Moorish influence, particularly in Granada. These are just a few of the many
aspects of Andalucían life that I loved discovering and witnessing.
There are a huge number of foreign students at one of the two universities in Seville, so it’s easy to
get to know other exchange students from all over the world at the events organised by the many
ERASMUS societies and organisations. It’s a great way to meet other students who are in the same
boat as you and learn about a whole host of different cultures, but it’s also a good idea to make
friends with some locals too. Some Erasmus students find it hard making friends with home
students because they already have established friendship groups, but I would recommend making
the effort to chat to some of the Spaniards in your classes. I found that often they are just shy or
unsure who you are, so making that first step can be all it takes to make friends within your classes.
I also used a website called conversationexchange.com to find partners with whom to practise
Spanish. In my experience this was a fantastic way to get to know like-minded local people who are
also interested in languages but also know their city well and want to show you how amazing it is
and help you feel at home there.
I feel I should also describe what my academic experience was like. I took a mixture of 2nd and 3rd
year modules from the maths department, along with 3 language institute modules: Spanish for
foreigners; advanced German and beginners Japanese. For me, this balance of language and maths
modules was perfect, and I found my classes stimulating and challenging but also within my
capabilities. The best aspect in my opinion was the dedication of the teaching staff. There was
much more contact time than I’m used to at Warwick, the classes were smaller, the teachers offered
much more help and we were actually taught rather than being lectured at. It reminded me more of
sixth form than a British university. I suppose it could be argued that our system teaches
undergraduates how to become more independent learners, an important skill for the real world,
however I found the high level of support preferable because I found I had more resources and help
available to me when I found something difficult, so was less inclined to give up on a difficult
problem.
It has been scary and at times difficult, but I don’t regret my Erasmus year at all. I have learnt so
much and grown as a person, whilst discovering new things and having fun. The highlights were:
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Travelling and trying new things
Sunny weather
Immersion in Spanish culture
Making international friends
Becoming fluent in Spanish
Experiencing what studying at a Spanish university is like
Becoming more self-confident and independent
Delicious, local fresh fruit and olives
Learning Japanese in Spanish!
Cheap wine
Sun-bathing and swimming outdoors
I would thoroughly recommend studying in Seville and am happy to give any more information or
advice to anyone who’s considering it – feel free to contact me on [email protected]
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Thea Turner 2012-13 - University of Warwick