Since I am here in Barcelona because of a study abroad exchange program, I figured I should probably share my experiences at my university, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, or for short, UPF. This university is only 20 years old, yet it is one of the best business schools in Europe. Knowing this, I was quite nervous to start classes.
Things at UPF are quite different from how Pitt is run. For example, probably at least a week before classes begin, I normally would receive an email from my professors just welcoming us to the class and also with the syllabus attached. Well, this is not the case here in Barcelona.
My orientation program allowed me to meet a few new friends right away, but it wasn’t the most informative, unfortunately. In order to find out where and when my classes were, I needed to be able to log in to the online system. However, I was unable to do this because I wasn’t given my log in information. Therefore, the night before classes began I was very anxious because I knew that I was definitely going to have to miss my first class ever, since it was at 8 o’clock in the morning and that’s when all the other offices here opened. Despite this, I tried to remain calm because there wasn’t really anything I could do. I made it to the main office bright and early, and was able to find out my information and where the rest of my classes were located.
Now that I’m in my fourth week of classes, I am in the swing of things here and my schedule is pretty regular. I have four classes: Finanzas II, International Team Management, Contabilidad de Costes, and International Economics and Business History. Even though I have four classes in total, I haven’t had any assignments yet. This is a major difference from Pitt because I know that if I were at home right now, I would be drowning in assignments and probably stress. However, that doesn’t mean that this school is necessarily easier. Because I don’t have assignments to keep up with, that just means that I have to find my own motivation to keep up and study the material on my own. This can definitely be a challenge because every single day here is absolutely beautiful, and I feel like I can’t waste the good weather! As I look out my window right now, the sun is shining bright and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. However, knowing that most of my final exams are worth 60% of my grade reals me in a bit.
Another difference is that instead of having a class two or three times a week, I only have lecture once a week for two hours. I don’t think I really like having class for this long, honestly. We do get a break in between, but still I think I like having class for a shorter amount of time. Accompanying all my lectures I also have seminars, kind of like recitations at Pitt where we do a lot of practice problems and just reinforce the information that we learn each week.
The best thing about my schedule is that I don’t have any classes on Wednesday’s. This may seem strange to some people, but I actually really like it because I have a day of rest in between two long days of classes. Last Wednesday I went to beach, relaxed, painted, and hung out with a friend. Today I’ve already went for a run through the beautiful gardens on Montjuïc, did some chores, and I plan to explore Barcelona a little bit more later on.
Getting used to the different style of organization and education at UPF has taken some time, but I am definitely learning a lot and really enjoy having classes about international topics while I am here with other international and local students.