Organization of the stay
I was looking for a way to take business courses related to personal psychology and at the same time complete Spanish language courses. This combination offered me the program of the MicroEDU agency, which I contacted about 3/4 of a year before my stay abroad. By working with MicroEDU, the organization of my stay abroad was very simple, as I received very competent and fast support in Germany and Spain for every question.
I decided on the courses ” Human Resource Management “, “Cross-Cultural Management”, “Managerial Skills for International Business” and a Spanish language course at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona in the fall semester 2015. Get more information about Universitat Autònoma De Barcelona on educationvv.
This enabled me to improve my specialist vocabulary in 2 foreign languages, acquire business knowledge with reference to personal psychology and study at the second best university in Spain (according to QS World University Rankings 2014/15).
With this in mind, I submitted my application documents ( English language proficiency certificate, CV, passport photo, course choice, transcript) to MicroEDU in June 2015.
Before that, I also found out about the possibility of funding through a scholarship organization to which I belong one year before the start of the semester. There I submitted my application documents for funding for studying abroad in March 2015 and received confirmation of funding.
After the acceptance by MicroEDU, I searched the Internet under “wg-gesucht.de” for flat shares in Barcelona. In the end, however, I got a very central and inexpensive flat share through friends who were studying in Barcelona. In general, the housing market is more relaxed than in major German cities and you should definitely take a look at the room before moving in. The monthly rents are between 250 and 400 euros.
I lived with 4 Spaniards who have been living together for 5 years and who gave me a very warm welcome. This enabled me to quickly communicate in Spanish on a day-to-day basis.
I particularly liked the “Cross Cultural Management” course. Here we learned where in companies conflicts and misunderstandings can arise due to different manifestations on different cultural dimensions with an international workforce or international stakeholders. In this course, we should also reflect for ourselves where we place ourselves in relation to various cultural dimensions, regardless of our nationality, and how we ourselves influence conflicts as a result of these characteristics. In doing so, we also developed practical tips on how the collaboration of different cultures in companies can be organized efficiently and appreciatively. We presented 2 papers as examination performances, a group and an individual presentation, as well as a final exam.
The courses “Human Resource Management” and “Managerial Skills for International Business” showed me the business context of efficient and humane personnel management. Since my professor was also a business psychologist, theories of personal psychology kept coming up for example to motivate the workforce, leadership behavior and time and conflict management. In addition, we also dealt with the consequences of various organizational structures / strategies, the structure of salaries and alternatives to redundancies and sales techniques. The content was conveyed using conventional lecture slides as well as numerous case studies. We watched clips a lot, so it often felt like we were being taught in a high school rather than a university.
Overall, the perceived level is lower than the German courses, so I would recommend taking more than 4 courses. I would have liked a higher theoretical part with more challenges.
The language course also turned out to be much more practical than expected, as communication in everyday life was primarily focused, so that the proportion of oral exercises was very large. Here I would also have liked to write and read more texts. I was able to apply the knowledge I acquired there directly on a daily basis in conversations with my Spanish roommates and by reading Spanish books. If you really want to improve your Spanish, you should regularly seek contact with Spanish interlocutors.
Spanish in Catalonia
Even if Catalan is spoken more and more in Barcelona, there were many more opportunities than expected to speak Spanish: In every business you can communicate in Spanish and at the same time there are a lot of Spanish students who themselves come from regions where none Catalan is spoken. I was also invited several times by the families of my roommates, in whom no one spoke fluent English, which helped me to speak more Spanish, especially at the beginning of my stay. This combination enabled me to improve my Spanish quickly. At first I didn’t think that you would get used to a new language so quickly. Based on this experience, I would now also take Spanish-language business courses at the university if I had the choice again.
Social environment in the courses
Overall, the courses in the Study Abroad Program also gave me the opportunity to get to know the culture of numerous other nations. Due to the international target group of the program there were students from at least 4 different nations in each course and in one of my courses I studied with people from 9 different nations (including China, Brazil, USA, Mexico…). Working in groups with these students gave me a direct insight into the different ways of learning and teaching, which are strongly influenced by culture. For example, many students were more used to inductive teaching and one-sided communication without the possibility of feedback from the professor.
Due to the international environment , I organized meetings to discuss political issues at the beginning of the semester. The meetings consisted mostly of about 6 students who came from Korea, USA, Great Britain, Germany. Before the meeting, we set a common agenda and, for example, exchanged views on the different perspectives on corporate social responsibility of companies and the refugee situation in the countries mentioned and had the North-South Korea conflict described from the perspective of South Korean students.
Life in the city of Barcelona
Life in Barcelona is above all cosmopolitan, colorful and rich in culture !
There was not a day on which I did not meet more than 3 nationalities. So Barcelona offers the opportunity to get to know a lot more than just “one” culture – as long as you stay curious and ask questions.
I can recommend the “Meet-up” page to everyone, which offers small exhibitions, sports courses and hikes, among other things. This enabled me to make contact with many friends who had been living in Barcelona for several years and I quickly built up a social environment. So if you want to see more than Erasmus groups, you’ve come to the right place!
I especially liked the Gracia, Born and especially Raval, but also Poble Nou districts. I had the impression that every “barrio” in Barcelona has its own charm and character, which makes this city so exciting every day.
For everyone who loves sports and nature, Barcelona is also perfect, as you can buy a cheap used bike and get to the Tibidabo mountain or the more secluded beaches very quickly. You can also get an overview of the whole city at the bunkers (see picture), which are only a stone’s throw away. Excursions to Montserrat (see picture), Matagalls, Cap de Creus (see picture) are also perfect for hiking. If you are lucky, you can still see ripe khakis on the trees even in November (see picture).
If you need some time out from the big city, you should also visit Girona (see picture).