Receiving the news of been awarded an Erasmus+ KA107 scholarship to study Architecture in Spain at the University of Valladolid was one of the best days of my life. Growing up in a small town on the Island of New Guinea all my life I had never had an opportunity to travel abroad. I had always dreamt of visiting the West, where civilization started. As an architect I was particularly fascinated by the historical architecture of Europe. The Erasmus scholarship was definitely a dream opportunity for me.
The girls at the Collegio Mayor Santa Cruz were very friendly and helped me settle in well. The refectory served typical Spanish dishes for which I was delighted to try out. The time table for meals however was a surprise. Lunch is served at 14:00 and supper at 21:30. My new girlfriends later explained that this is typical Spanish way of life as I later came to know about siesta after realizing most shops were closed from 2pm to 5pm. Such an amazing yet interesting life style I had to be accustomed to. After three months of preparing my travel documents, the day finally arrived. It was 20th September, a day I can hardly forget. Transiting through different Airports, it took me more than a day to arrive at Madrid International Airport-Spain. Another 2 hour bus ride took me to my new place of residence at the Collegio Mayor Santa Cruz, Valladolid. Due to 9 hours difference, I arrived the same day, 20th Sept in Valladolid.
Valladolid is a beautiful historical city with a social and tranquil atmosphere. Set among historical site along a vaunting and long winding river, with beautiful parks and gardens. The city host cozy cafes and tapa bars which serve some of the best wine and Tapas in Spain. The streets are safe and clean and the people are helpful and respectful; a city so different to the city I lived in. The city is conducive for students as the cost of living is low plus all the University campuses and important facilities in the vicinity are within walking distance.Studies commenced after a week after I arrived. The lessons were mostly in Spanish but easy to understand though I had little knowledge of Spanish language, I could follow through. I learnt a lot from the lectures and the assignments. The courses were very informative and challenging and most importantly I got to learn stuff which I would not be able to learn in my country. The academics at the School of Architecture were very warm and welcoming. The school was topographically immense in comparison to my home collage. I spent my free time around the campus, viewing the display of students work and making use of the great collection of books and resources.
The social interaction was a great part of my journey as I met new people and got to understand other cultures better. The Erasmus Student Network organized excursions to other parts of Spain, where I got to meet other international students and travel together. I also went on road trips with my friends; they were an adventurous bunch (which I was very lucky to meet). I was adamant to visit all the important architectural sites in Spain during my stay and I am satisfied to say I did get to see most of them.
My advice to prospective Erasmus+ KA107 student is to make the most of the opportunity; learn as much as you can in terms of knowledge and experiences. It is important to budget time & money well and always be health and safety conscious. Before arriving It is beneficial to learn the language of the country; at least the common basic conversations. Always ensure that there is internet on your phone to ease communication and also for handy phone apps such google earth and google translate.
The Erasmus+ KA107 program has really added value to my professional development by broadening my understanding and appreciation of architecture. I have also learnt a lot about Spain, made lifelong friendships and built professional networks.
My Erasmus experience was awesome. I am very grateful for the scholarship and I can’t wait to return to Papua New Guinea and share my knowledge and experience with my people. My Spanish sojourn was in fact a great experience and an inspiration. It has proven beyond reasonable doubt that education and hard work attains prolific end and would be an inspiration for others in my home country, Papua New Guinea.