“Five tips for the Caribbean Erasmus student” by Saloni Kissoon

It’s nearing the end of November, which means I have already spent almost three months studying in Valladolid. In this time I’ve learnt so much about the city’s beauty and rich culture, but there are also a few lessons that I wish I had known prior to my arrival. As such, here are five tips that I think would be useful to a Caribbean student about to embark on their Erasmus journey.

1) Although it doesn’t snow here, the cold in Valladolid is no joke. Prepare as much as you can for the winter because I can attest to the fact that the Caribbean body is not equipped to handle extreme cold. In my experience, the hardest thing to cope with is the cold air and strong winds. Scarves, gloves and turtle-necks will soon become your best friends.

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2) Don’t let the initial culture shock throw you off. Valladolid is extremely different from the Caribbean, not just in temperature but also in the temperament of its people. In the beginning, it came as a shock to my fellow Trinidadians and me when our casual ‘Hola’ to strangers on the street were met with blank stares, but we soon realized that this is just one of the many cultural differences between Europe and the Caribbean which we have come to respect over time.

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3) Prior to Valladolid, I had never lived apart from my parents. One thing this Erasmus experience has taught me is how to be self-reliant. I’ve started experimenting with cooking and generally just enjoying my independence, making mistakes along the way but learning and growing from them. Thus, my third tip is to not be afraid of living on your own because it’s an ultimately exciting and fulfilling experience.

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4) My fourth tip is to travel as much as you can. Spain is a gorgeous country, so different from the Caribbean landscape, and although we’re here to study it’s important to find a good balance between work and play. It’s extremely easy to buy a bus ticket from Valladolid to Madrid, Segovia, Salamanca or any of the other neighbouring cities. There are also organized tours done by the Erasmus Student Network or Erasmus Viajes that take the hassle out of planning your own trip. Some of my best memories of Spain so far have been made on these trips and I highly recommend exploring the country as much as possible.

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5) My final (and most important) tip is that your time in Spain will fly by, so make the most of it  while you’re here. Five months seems like forever in the beginning, but in reality the weeks go by quicker than you can imagine. So my advice is totry new things, meet new people, go on adventures in and around the city, step out of your comfort zone and enjoy this experience as much as possible. This opportunity only comes once in a lifetime and you have the power to make it as exciting as you can!

Saloni Kissoon.

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“My Erasmus Valladolid experience.” by Alexa Khan.

This has been my first time in Europe and so far, it´s an unforgettable experience. One thing I must say, it is completely different from my life in Trinidad and Tobago. The culture, the climate and the people. All in all, this experience was extremely beneficial to me and I have learnt a great deal of information during my stay in Valladolid, Spain.AK4 Continue reading

“Two months in Valladolid” by Keithan Allen

Two months ago, I arrived in the beautiful city of Valladolid anxious but excited to begin my adventure in this unfamiliar place that I’d get to call home for 5 months. After weeks of preparation and a 36-hour journey to get here from my twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, I soon realized that I was in fact not entirely prepared for what I’d gotten myself into. My time here thus far has been a rollercoaster ride; filled with ups and downs, as it is with any life changing experience. However, it’s safe to say that the good has greatly outweighed the bad. I’ve made so many friends from literally all around the world, I’ve gotten to visit several new places and create lots of fond memories. But, there are somethings that I learned about being an exchange student at the University of Valladolid that Google failed to mention beforehand.

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“15 reasons why I’m happy in Valladolid.” by Katsiaryna Misiuk

¡Hola a todos!

My relatives and friends always ask me about the life in Spain. The most frequent question is if I am happy here. And a simple answer “YES” is never enough. So, one of such conversations struck me with the idea what I can share with you. Therefore, I present a small part of a million reasons which allow me to enjoy my staying in Valladolid. Continue reading

TE QUIERO, VALLADOLID! by Ninh Giang Le Ngoc

My journey at the University of Valladolid was so incredible, so magical that it transformed my entire life into new pages. Being an Erasmus exchange student in Spain is the best thing that happened to me in my university’s life.

“Valladolid is where I got out of my comfort zone.

Valladolid is where I found my own wild heart.

Valladolid is where I realized that adventure is the best way to learn.”

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My Erasmus Experience in Valladolid, Spain. by Davida Kazia Thomas

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.

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My first day in Valladolid. Valladolid Plaza Mayor

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The Life Changing Experience in Europe of a Small Fiji Islander by Maria-Rose Chandra

Being from a small island nation in the South Pacific, and a first time traveler, this experience has definitely been an enjoyable and memorable one. From the friendly and dedicated staff, to the students from various countries all over the world, who I now call friends and the breathtaking sites, which has ultimately left me in awe and utmost grateful to those who made this possible for me.

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Erasmus+ KA 107 by Samir Mena

Valladolid is a very beautiful and quit city, has churches, diverse architecture, shops, restaurants, bars, banks and museums are all located in the main part of the city.
One of Spain’s oldest universities, the Universidad de Valladolid suitable for all researchers and students provided with all new equipment in laboratories and all advanced programs.

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UVa – the bridge to a new world, by Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh

My name is Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh. I am a student in Vietnam National University – Hanoi University of Science. I want to show you a great deal of amazing experience that I gained during the time living and studying in the University of Valladolid (UVa).

The first experience of mine is learning how to adapt with the climate. Valladolid is a city has the climate totally different from my country. In the winter, it was freezing cold and dry but rarely snowy.  I could not wear any T-shirt till the end of April. This weather made us always go shoulder by shoulder, hand by hand to get warmer – the weather brought us close together. I was quite confident to say that I can even move to Arctic to live after I experienced the weather in Valladolid.

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A snowy day in Spain which rarely occur

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ERASMUS + KA107 caused me to discover BEAUTIFUL SPAIN = By Gerega Maiga (Nego)

MY TRAVEL ROUT TO SPAIN

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Travelling the half of the globe

The 11th of September 14:50hr is the day and time I will never forget of leaving the soil of my country Papua New Guinea. It was a very exciting moment when I received a scholarship under ERASMUS + KA107 Masters International Credit Mobility program coordinated by European Commission to study in Spain. Nonstop flight leaving Port Moresby (Jackson’s airport) to Singapore (Changi airport) transiting to Amsterdam (Schiphol airport) and then finally to Madrid (Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport) took us total of 17 hours travel was a physical trauma indeed. Continue reading

The first Belizean Erasmus exchange student. by Vianay Bautista

 

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vb2My name is Vianay Bautista and I am from a small tropical country called Belize. I grew in Corozal Town, a small town which is located near a bay at the northernmost part of Belize. So far this experience has been incredible and amazing. I always dreamt of traveling to other countries in order to experience various cultures.

At first I had no idea what to expect upon arriving at Valladolid. I had a mixture of nervousness, excitement and anticipation throughout my journey crossing the North Atlantic Ocean. Thoughts flooded my mind with respect to the climate, the food and the people of Spain. Nevertheless, I firmly knew that this will be an experience I shall cherish for the rest of my life. Continue reading

Awesome Valladolid, Awesome UVa, by Trung Hieu Doan

The international semester at School of Industrial Engineering, University of Valladolid (UVa) has left me with many incredible experiences and memories. It was a great opportunity for me to receive high-quality education from a prestigious university in Spain and to learn more about Spanish culture and lifestyle, as well as making friends with people from many different countries. Continue reading

My experience in Valladolid, by Ihsèn Ben Salah

It was wonderful to spend 5 months in Valladolid to the point that I don’t know from where to start to describe this pleasant experience. First of all, I am grateful to know a supervisor as serious and helpful as the professor Mr. Ramón de la Rosa Steinz, also to know a kind and respectful friends. And about the city of Valladolid, it’s just great! I visited some parks and some museums that are so beautiful. I fell in love with the architecture and the traditional dish of this city. The atmosphere here was an atmosphere of study with excellence. this is the minimum that I can say about this experience.

Here some photos about my stay in Valladolid:

Ihsèn Ben Salah

WHERE THE JOURNEY BEGIN… (BY DOAN, THI NHAT MINH)

My name is Doan Thi Nhat Minh from VNU University of Science – Vietnam National University. I was so happy to receive the Invitation letter from University of Valladolid to carry out a Master exchange mobility within the framework of the ERASMUS+ KA107-24005 programme. And from this point of time, my journey toward the future begin…

Our first steps on the beautiful land of Palencia, with the baggages from the very faraway Vietnam, we are ready to discover new things in this peaceful city….

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TRIPS TO SPAIN (BY NGUYEN TA, NAM BRIEF)

At the end of last year, I started my Master study in Vietnam National University. And now I am studying in Spain follow ERASMUS+ KA107 program. It is amazing for me. With the supported from UVA International Relationship office, I took a flight for 21 hours to Spain. Even a bit tired because long time traveling, I felt very exciting to come to other countries, especially a European country. Spain is the third country I’ve come, but it is the most expecting one.

THE FIRST DAY IN VALLADOLID

The first day in Spain, I came to UVA International Relation Office to complete my documents, it is very attractive with beautiful, peaceful place and friendly people.

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THE FIRST DAY IN PALENCIA

On the next day, I went to Palencia, where I will study for next 5 months. On the way from Valladolid to Palencia, I saw many beautiful place that I’ve never seen before. It really exciting for me and I think that I will have wonderful memories about the time studying here. Also I had some days off before going to class, so I could have time for finding an suitable flat for living in next 5 months. With the helps of staffs in Palencia International Office, I found a flat which is very convenience to study and also to live.
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THE TIME TO STUDY 

I took the class that very interesting with professor from UVA and 3 kindly classmates. We went a lot to the field trips to study. It is really good for us to study both by presentation and practically. My classmates are very friendly, we study together, help each other to understand the gaps for solving problems. We have plan to visit many other beautiful places that are suggested.

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Go to field trip with Professor

NAVIDADES EN CALIFORNIA, COMIENZO DEL SEGUNDO CUATRIMESTRE Y SPRING BREAK ( Por Jorge San Román Esquilas )

El final del primer cuatrimestre llego a su fin y con ello tocó decir adiós a muchos amigos internacionales que volvían a sus respectivos países. Fueron unos días tristes ya que habíamos vivido geniales momentos juntos, pero no fue un adiós, fue un hasta pronto ya que nos prometimos volver a ver en cualquier otro país del mundo y rememorar el fantástico Fall que habíamos pasado juntos.

Una semana después tuve el mejor regalo de navidad que podía tener y fue poder pasar las navidades con mis padres y mi novia aquí en California. Estuvieron durante dos semanas, y fueron unos días inolvidables e intensos ya que no paramos de viajar y conocer sitios impresionantes.

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Visita al Grand Canyon

Durante esas dos semanas visitamos San Diego, Los Ángeles, Las Vegas y San Francisco, así como otras ciudades y “pueblos” costeros más pequeños.

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Malibu Beach

Pero la verdad a mí lo que me fascina de EE.UU no son sus grandes urbes, sino los espectaculares Parques Nacionales. Entre ellos visitamos Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument,  Joshua Tree and Mojave Desert, Lake Mead and Valley of fire, Grand Canyon, Red Canyon and Death Valley y mi preferido hasta ahora que es Sequoia National Park.

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Monument Valley

Las navidades se acabaron y empezó el segundo cuatrimestre y con ello nuevas clases y volver al estudio y trabajo diario tan característico de la docencia de aquí en EE.UU.

Pero no todo iba a ser estudiar… llegó el Spring Break, una semana de vacaciones, en la que me embarque en la aventura de viajar solo, conduciendo mi coche y durmiendo en él a través de 6 Estados: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado y New Mexico.

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Top of Angels Landing in Zion National Park

Fue una experiencia inolvidable y que siempre voy a recordar como mi viaje: “Into the Wild”

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Valley of Fire

En mi próxima y ultima publicación os escribiré sobre el final del curso y el regreso a España. Ahora toca hincar los codos y estudiar, que los exámenes y proyectos finales están muy próximos.

Desde la otra punta del mundo, Jorge San Román Esquilas.

SEGUNDA MITAD DEL PRIMER TRIMESTRE, VACACIONES DE NAVIDAD Y EL COMIENZO DEL SEGUNDO SEMESTRE (por Cleto Criado del Rey)

Muy buenas, aquí vuelvo con mis historias a contaros un poco esta maravillosa experiencia.

Estábamos en que me había cambiado de casa y todavía no tenía trabajo. Así que empiezo con el trabajo, que es interesante. Según llegué a USA hice una entrevista de trabajo para trabajar en el servicio de comida del campus, desde una cafetería hasta poniendo hamburguesas etc… Pasé la entrevista (suigéneris, yo creo que lo hicieron más por ver mi nivel de inglés y por comprobar que no estaba loco ni era un asesino en potencia. Al fin y al cabo poner cafés tampoco es una ciencia, aunque quieran que lo parezca) sin problema y me dijeron que tenía que pedir mi número de la seguridad social, lo cual resultó ser toda una odisea.

Hubo un problema con mi apellido por ser este increíblemente largo y complicado a la par que impronunciable para los americanos. El caso es que por lo visto al entrar en USA por primera vez cuando aterrizamos en Los Angeles, el policía de aduanas que nos atendió a Jorge y a mi, debió escribir mal mi nombre en el sistema y claro, no había quien encontrara ni vivo ni muerto el formulario I-94 que acredita que has entrado en el país legalmente y especifica por qué vía, cuando y a qué hora… Tras varias idas y venidas por parte de la oficina de relaciones internacionales de CSUSM (majísimos y siempre dispuestos a ayudar, por cierto) y bastante desesperación por mi parte, me aventuré a ir a la oficina de inmigración en San Diego para ver qué era lo que pasaba, ya que necesitaba trabajar para poder pagarme los vicios (una cerveza en un bar cuesta unos $8 más propina, una auténtica ruina)… Conseguí que corrigieran el error y por fin pude pedir mi número de la seguridad social, el cual tardó casi 2 meses en llegar gracias a mi maravillosa y única combinación de apellidos (esta vez bien escritos pero demasiado extensos para el sistema americano acostumbrado a apellidos con una extensión de una palabra y unas 5 o 6 letras y un apóstrofe).

Cuando por fin tuve todo en regla era mitad de octubre y pude empezar a trabajar unas 10 horas por semana en una cafetería del campus propiedad de Sodexo, llamada Jazzman’s (con apóstrofe y todo, estos americanos…). Yo, tonto de mi pensé que poner cafés iba a ser algo fácil hasta que me dieron el menú de los cafés con mil millones de opciones y siropes diferentes, ofertas que cambian, recetas con nombres inverosímiles y lo peor… ¡Gente que los pide!
Os interesará saber que ya me he acostumbrado al trabajo, se me casi todo de memoria y pongo los cafés más ricos del condado de San Diego.

Detras del mostrador en Jazzman's
Detrás del mostrador en Jazzman´s

Cambiando de tercio, hablemos de amistades. El principio (como siempre) fue duro, conocer gente en América en una commuter school es difícil pero bueno, la gente con la que siempre es fácil entablar amistades es la gente que está en situaciones parecidas a la tuya así que poco a poco cada vez conocí a más gente de otros países, excepto de América, y ahora tengo más amigos de toda Europa que americanos. La realidad es que mis amigos americanos los cuento con los dedos, mis compañeros de casa con los que he conectado realmente bien y son como mi familia y una pareja y un amigo suyo que vinieron a una fiesta internacional y se quedaron porque les gustó el ambiente y hasta ahora. Da gusto encontrar gente con mente abierta y flexibilidad social la verdad, unos de los placeres de viajar (al menos en mi opinión).

Como iba diciendo, amigos de Alemania, Suecia, Noriega, Dinamarca, Holanda, Francia, Luxemburgo, Inglaterra, Irlanda, Australia, China, Japon, India, Filipinas, Corea (del sur jeje)… Una diversidad muuuuy guay y muy divertida que se disolvió parcialmente al irse la gente que se quedaba solo un semestre pero que se ha recreado con los nuevos estudiantes internacionales que han venido en el segundo semestre. El momento social más chulo son los martes en un bar cercano al campus que se llama Players. Los martes son Taco Tuesdays donde los tacos cuestan $2 y las cervezas $4 así que los internacionales venimos esas noches a disfrutar los precios europeos que no vemos los fines de semana.

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Un martes de Taco Tuesday en Players, junto amigos de la universidad

Venga trabajar poniendo cafés y todo el día de fiesta con mis amigos internacionales, os estaréis preguntando si estudio en algún momento… La respuesta es sí, como decía en el primer post, la carga de trabajo está muy bien distribuida así que todas las semanas tienes cosas que hacer pero cuando llegan los exámenes finales se pasan como si nada. Ni siquiera sentí estrés, salí de fiesta incluso más que otras semanas y me fui de viaje a Los Angeles en mitad de la semana de exámenes porque de tanto machacar las asignaturas en clase en el día a día para el examen final casi no hacía falta estudiar. Un contraste brutal con el sistema español. Cuando se acabaron los exámenes no me lo podía creer, ¿ya está?, me preguntaba a mí mismo, absolutamente incrédulo de que ya se hubiera acabado el primer semestre.

Actividad para clase proyecto crowfunding para la investigacion del cancer
Actividad para clase proyecto crowfunding para la investigación del cáncer

Estudiar, trabajar y salir de fiesta vale, si, suena a Erasmus. Pero, ¿y viajes?, ¿y aventuras?…

La verdad es que el primer cuatrimestre hice más bien viajes cortos y cercanos, guardando los largos y chulos para el final con la esperanza de que alguien viniera a verme y a compartirlos conmigo. Varias visitas a las playas de Los Ángeles, (Apuntad por si venís, id a Santa Mónica y Venice Beach sin falta! Venice Beach es mi favorita por la cantidad de arte callejero que tiene. Altamente recomendable) un par de excursiones a jugar al paintball, innumerables fines de semana de playa…

Dia de hacer el idiota en la playa de Ocenaside
Disfrutando del atardecer en la playa de Ocenaside
Henna Tatoo en Venice Beach
Tatuaje de Henna en Venice Beach

Pero sin lugar a dudas, mi experiencia favorita fue asistir como soguilla a una regata de globos aerostáticos a Cathedral City, una ciudad en medio del desierto de Palm Springs. Pude compartir la experiencia con tres amigos alemanes que se vinieron a la aventura a ver de que iba eso y les encantó la experiencia.

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Increíble experiencia con los globos aerostáticos

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Os dejo dos vídeos que hizo mi amigo Marius (él es el rubio, yo soy el grande de las barbas) sobre el fin de semana en Palm Springs y sobre una de las visitas a Santa Mónica:  y Venice Beach. Si echáis un vistazo al canal veréis muchas de las cosas que menciono en los posts.

Regata en Cathedral City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhGX4V4R9IU

Santa Mónica y Venice Beach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hqWeS4eyKk

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Santa Mónica Beach

En Navidades, en lugar de volver a España como hicieron la mayoría de mis amigos (ellos a sus respectivos países, claro, ya les gustaría pasar unas navidades en España…), me fui a Chicago a ver a los amigos que hice durante mi adolescencia en campamentos de verano de la YMCA, donde aprendí la mayoría del inglés que hablo actualmente. Un viaje tan caro como divertido (no, no me acostumbro a los precios americanos, madre mía, se me siguen saliendo los ojos). Me quedé en casa de una amiga durante unos 10 días disfrutando de todos los agentes meteorológicos posibles incluida la combinación de sol y un frío polar.

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Partido de los Chicago Bulls

A la vuelta de mi viaje estuve una semana en casa casi sin hacer nada, recuperándome financiera y físicamente del viaje. Cuando estuve recuperado físicamente (financieramente creo que igual ya para 2020) me puse a preparar todas las cosas necesarias para el segundo cuatrimestre. Alquilar libros en Amazon, comprar material, preparar horarios y encajar el trabajo con mis clases…

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Panorámicas de Chicago desde la Hancock Tower

El inicio del segundo cuatrimestre fue tranquilo, ya sabía a lo que venía y lo que podía esperar. Como siempre el típico estrés la primera semana cuando te cuentan todo el plan de estudios de cada asignatura y crees que no te cabe todo eso en el cerebro, pero bueno… Con mucha paciencia al final de cada semestre te das cuenta de que sí que te cabe todo eso y más en el cerebro. Al fin y al cabo el saber no ocupa lugar… ¿no?

Financieramente herido pero con un espíritu aventurero inquebrantable, empecé a planear viajes y cosas que ya han pasado pero que os contaré en el siguiente post para que este no se os haga pesado e indigesto. De momento me despido desde la Kellog Library de la CSUSM, voy a ver si hago algo con mi vida que no sea contarla o vivirla.

Un abrazo!

ERASMUS + MOBILITY EXPERIENCE (By Olusegun Olagunju)

I was so excited on the day I was to leave South Africa for Spain on the Erasmus mobility program because I know it would be a great experience for me. I got to the Kingshaka International airport a bit late but thanks to my colleagues who had assisted me with my luggage. We connected a flight enroute Dubai to Madrid Spain and journey was about 18 hours flight. It was a bit stressful due to the numbers of hours but the various activities like reading, watching movies, documentaries and listening to music that I engaged myself with in the aircraft eased the stress.

 

I was excited to see my landlord (Mr Jose) who was already waiting at the park even before the bus arrived to take me to the accommodation reserved for me despite his busy schedule.  He also took me round town that same evening, showed me the route to the International office and gave me historical background about some places and buildings we visited. . He made the time I spent with him worthwhile and it was as if we had known each other for years.

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It was easy locating the International office and thanks to Mr Jose who had taken his time to show me the route a night before. Documentation process was done with ease and the officials at the International office were so nice and were never tired of either answering my question or offering assistance. I was at first nervous thinking conversation would be in Spanish but most of them speak English which made me comfortable.

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I had an experience on my first day going to class where I mistakenly dropped a document along the way; a man in his mid 40ths saw what happened and went out of his way to notify me even when he was not going the same route I was.  This act of kindness will forever stock with me and I would preach it everywhere I go.

All the lecturers were very nice and they taught with passion. Classes were interesting because of the interactive sessions and sharing of ideas by both lecturers and students alike.

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The city of Valladolid is quite an admirable place to be. The history, structures, statues, museums, sculptures are fantastic. I am having a nice time here and enjoying my stay as well. The people here are nice, friendly and accommodating. Valladolid rocks!!!

THE ONE AND THE MOST ASTOUNDING EXPERIENCE IN VALLADOLID, SPAIN. (By Mthobisi Ndebele, Sbonelo)

OUR JOURNEY TO SPAIN

All the way from King Shaka (Durban- South Africa) to Adolfo Suáre Barajas (Madrid- Spain) through Dubai International Airport was a lovely interesting and electrifying journey, most especially this was the longest flight Journey- approximated to 15 hours. The arrival at Madrid to catch a bus to Valladolid was quiet challenging but jaw-dropping at the same time. The presence of our Landlord in Valladolid bus station was a rescue to us “big-up to that”.

FIRST DAY IN VALLADOLID

This day is an unforgettable one; how so? … After arriving in the house at around 20h00 we decided to take a very short tour in the Valladolid City with our landlord; how sweet is that?… Well, we were provided with the City map, and we toured around the wondrous city centre; Plaza Mayo, Cathedral, Palacio de Santacruz etc.

We learnt difference routes and food & beverages places such as restaurants, markets and so on, and we went back to the house very late around 23h30. Whenever I walk around town, I always remember the first time I saw the City, and the amazing part is that I always discover new places and new short routes.

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FIRST WEEKS IN THE UNIVERSITY

The first week in the University was quiet interesting of course, likely my flat is located 15 minutes away from campus thus I walk to classes. In campus professors and other academic staffs are very nice and welcoming.  They are open and very approachable, I can just say, they have a very good chemistry with students.

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MY STAY IN SPAIN

So far, I’ve been enjoying my stay in Valladolid, enjoying the taste of the city with it number of picturesque places to visit and Spanish culture.

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How can I forget mentioning the weather and atmosphere of this place, with it moist air. The beauty of the city does not end on infrastructure alone, however the society of the city makes it the warmest place to be. Taking it from my first day of arrival, I knew Valladolid will be the best place to be, thanks to ERASMUS.

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I LOVE SPAIN (By Elvis Tinashe Ganda)

 

I Elv1 ESPAÑA


Once the visa was approved at the Spanish consulate, the dream became more of a reality in waiting. I was going to be in Europe before winter was over, stories of cold winters I had heard scared me however it was mostly the thrill of adventure which won my thoughts. Through the assistance of the UVa international office staff the flights and accommodation were booked and all was set for my stay in Spain.

Took the longest flight trip totalling approximately 17 hours from Durban via Dubai to Madrid before getting onto a coach for Valladolid, my landlady fetched me from the station to the apartment however communication was proving difficult with my almost zero spoken Spanish but thank to modern technology google translate was proving to be a saviour.

The architecture and timetable (especially siesta practice which I think is great) in Spain was definitely something different to what we are accustomed to in Africa, there was more to appreciate and see with museum, cathedrals, parks and buildings. With the assistance of the international staff the admin paperwork was sorted for my stay in Valladolid and had a couple of free days to explore town before official classes started.

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Went to a Spanish student social club (ESN) where I got to learn a bit about the culture, food, history and learnt how to prepare Spanish omelette and Paella during my second week in Valladolid. Life in Spain thus far has been great the weather turned out to be much better than I had feared however there is still a lot of work to be done to improve my almost zero spoken Spanish to a respectable state.

Thus far I have managed to take a weekend outing to Barcelona which was really great to experience a more diverse atmosphere and compare to the traditionally rich culture of Valladolid which is my home for the next couple of months.

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It has really been a great stay so far, hoping to explore more places in Spain during my stay here.

AFRICAN – SPANISH EXPERIENCE (By Sine Mchunu)

After weeks of practicing the name ‘Valladolid’ and imagining what life in Europe would be like, we boarded that plane at Durban’s airport in South Africa. There were 6 Africans boarding with each representing his/her own country. With two connecting flights and 16 hours between our home and Madrid airport, the flight on its own felt more like an experience.

The first change I noticed upon arriving in Spain was the colder weather-something I was not used to, coming from a city with tropical weather.

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I was welcomed to Valladolid very kindly by my mentor who showed me to my new home for the next 5 months. I met my Italian roommate of a few days (which was a culture shock to me since he was male) who was very kind but we had problems communicating because I knew no Spanish and he knew very little English!

Through my mentor I was introduced to a group of Erasmus students called ‘JOCE’ (Juventud Obrera Cristiana de España). This very diverse group of students was my first experience of Spanish culture and also, meeting people from many other countries. I enjoy meeting with the group for “Spanish dinners” which involve getting to know Spain, its cuisine and the language.

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But the experience does not end there! Mid-March we went to Barcelona with ESN and the experience was amazing. I found the city to be gorgeous, full of life and its people were warm and welcoming.

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I hope to further enjoy my stay in Valladolid and in Spain. The language can be tricky but I am determined to learn it and learn about the people, little by little.

ERASMUS EXPERIENCE IN SPAIN VALLADOLID (by Emmanuel Kweinor Tetteh)

JOURNEY FROM SOUTH AFRICA TO VALLADOLID, SPAIN

To fly away from what you know as home to another country, was a bit awkward. But to be in the air for eighteen (18) hours from Africa to Europe was really a nice experience and I was looking forward to staying in Valladolid for the next six (6) months, which will be my new home. The journey began when I was driven down to Kingshaka international airport Durban, South Africa by my supervisor (Prof Sudesh Rathilal) to catch the flight to Dubai and then joining a connecting flight from Dubai to Madrid.

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At Madrid the weather alone speaks of an experience. I quickly boarded the bus which took us three hours drive to Valladolid. I was enthused to be in Valladolid and to meet my Landlord (Mr Jose’) whom warmly welcome me and drove me to my apartment where I will be staying during the mobility period. Although, we arrived around 18:00 hours, the street was busy, I realise most businesses still continue late into the evening in Valladolid as compared to Africa where most activities ends early in the evening.

ERASMUS STUDENT AT VALLADOLID

Erasmus exchange programme to me is not just an experience but it is a way of exposing me to new things and the world at large, thus moving one from a confortable zone to grow in the aspects of managing life, confidence, independently , identifying  whom  you are in fulfilling destiny. I now think from a broader point of view in terms of academics and research.

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I do recommend the staff of the international office for their kind assistance during the documentation process. Language was a barrier, and therefore a Spanish course was organised freely by the Erasmus staff for us to attend. This has helped me build my interpersonal skills and has ease my communication and feel comfortable approaching people, making new friends and even doing shopping. The international semester lectures are lovely, they always motivate us to socialise and enjoy our stay and even offer us assistance when needed. The cordial relationship between lectures and student is quiet good, like the one I am having with my project supervisor, (Profs Raul and Aitor) who even assists me with my experimental work.

 

EXPLORING THE MARVELLOUS BEAUTY OF VALLADOLID AND SPAIN

The beauty of Valladolid and Spain at large  is  defined by the rich cultural heritage, monuments, the cathedrals ,  moral values and other statues .For instance greetings Hola and Gracias (Hello and Thank you), shows how friendly the people are. In addition, Museums in Valladolid such as Museo Zorrilla and National Museum of Sculpture are delightful places I have visited. They protrude a great display of interesting sculptures which are rooted from the Christian region. I had the privilege to travel with other Erasmus students to Barcelona and the experience was awesome. My stay in Valladolid has really been awesome such that I feel like I am home even though away.

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MY EXPERIENCE IN THE UNIVERSITY OF VALLADOLID (by Martha Chollom)

JOURNEY TO SPAIN

Our flight was from Kingshaka international airport Durban, South Africa to Dubai and then we had to join a connecting flight from Dubai to Madrid, from Madrid we took a three hour bus ride to Valladolid. Even though it was a long trip, I did not feel it because I was enthusiastic about coming to Spain.

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Martha and her colleagues in Madrid Airport

ARRIVAL

We arrived late around 18h00, and we had to part ways with my colleagues. My landlady was there at the park to take me to the place I will be staying during the mobility. On our way, everywhere seemed deserted and I was wandering what was happening. I later realised that most people took siestas in the evening, hence the streets were not too busy at that hour, the activities begins again afterwards.  That was my first cultural shock, back in Africa, that seems to be the busiest time of the day, with most people returning home from work and other businesses of the day.

I was expected at the international office the next day for documentation. Locating the office proved futile for me, I had to approach two ladies to assist me for directions however we couldn’t understand each other. These ladies were the nicest people I have met in a very long time, since they couldn’t describe to me because of the communication barrier (I didn’t understand a bit of Spanish) they changed their routes and walked me all the way to the international office.

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The documentation was smooth and the staff of the international office gave me the help and necessary information to establish myself in the university. I must commend the staff there; they really did a very fantastic job.  I took out time to begin to locate places of interest such as shops, first to get the basic necessities and afterwards, I explored the beautiful places the city had for me.

A few days later, we started classes and it has been a tremendous experience. The staffs are nice and always making sure that we are comfortable and willing to give their assistance were necessary.

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Law building, University of Valladolid

Valladolid is a magnificently beautiful town. The monuments, the Cathedral of Valladolid, the museums, the statues and all the other beautiful places it has to offer. Seemingly, the people are very friendly and willing to render their assistance joyously. I am catching awesome fun and as well experiencing life in a new dimension both academically and socially.

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PRIMEROS MESES EN SAN MARCOS (por Jorge San Román Esquilas)

Salimos desde Madrid haciendo escala en Estambul y después de un larguísimo viaje de más de un día llegamos a Los Ángeles. Nos adentramos en nuestra primera aventura de alquilar un coche y conducir en dirección San Diego hasta San Marcos.
Y por fin llegamos a esta pequeña ciudad en la que vamos a pasar nuestro curso académico 2016/2017.

Mi nuevo hogar es una familia Filipina (Jun, Roselyn y el pequeño Ethan de 9 años). Sentirte como en casa desde el primer día, es algo que se agradece y mucho, cuando estas a casi 10000 kilómetros de distancia de Valladolid.

Cleto y yo estamos estudiando en California State University of San Marcos. El campus es idéntico a la típica serie o película americana de estudiantes, que transcurre en un Campus Universitario.

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La vida universitaria estadounidense es muy diferente a la española ya que aquí está muy valorado el trabajo diario y no tanto los exámenes finales. Este sistema está mucho mejor planteado ya que aprendes mucho más poco a poco y aunque tengas que dedicar más tiempo diariamente, al final obtienes mejores calificaciones y estás menos agobiado con los exámenes finales.

Al principio me costó acostumbrarme a la vida americana, tanto a los horarios, como al tener que ir en coche a todos los sitios. Pero pasadas unas semanas empecé de verdad a disfrutar de California y de esta gran aventura que estoy viviendo.

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Poder ir a la playa situada a menos de 20 minutos en coche es una auténtica maravilla. Uno de mis lugares preferidos es Oceanside y su muelle, es un lugar en el que se respira tranquilidad y un sitio perfecto para hacer surf, disfrutar del mar, la playa y hacer deporte.

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Estoy teniendo la enorme oportunidad de poder viajar un montón, ya que soy corredor de élite de carreras de obstáculos (OCR) y he podido competir en el Spartan Race World Championship disputado en el precioso Lake Tahoe y diversas carreras tanto en California como en Arizona y Nevada.

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Poder compaginar los estudios con el deporte es algo que requiere mucho esfuerzo, disciplina y dedicación pero que si realmente luchas por ello día a día, al final obtienes una gratificación enorme. En mi próxima publicación hablaré de mis navidades en California y del comienzo del nuevo cuatrimestre.

Desde la otra punta del mundo, Jorge San Román Esquilas.

CRÓNICA DE VIAJE Y PRIMEROS DÍAS EN SAN MARCOS (por Cleto Criado del Rey Machimbarrena)

Salimos de Valladolid en coche seis maletas, Jorge, su novia, mi madre y yo en dirección a Barajas. Primeros segundos de aventura, no teníamos ni idea de todas las cosas que íbamos a vivir aquí y las que nos quedan por vivir.

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Despedida en el aeropuerto

Tras varias horas de vuelo aterrizamos en Estambul, donde hicimos una escala de 5 horas y cogimos otro vuelo de 14 horas con destino a Los Ángeles. La razón de esta combinación de vuelos era el precio, cuando por fin tuvimos todos los papeles y los visados arreglados era muy tarde y esta era de las pocas combinaciones que tenía un precio razonable. 14 horas en un avión dan para mucho, películas, siestas, paseos al servicio… Las ganas de llegar hacían que el tiempo pasara todavía más despacio. Yo ya conocía Estados Unidos, había venido varias veces de pequeño y más o menos sabía lo que me podía esperar, pero aun así estaba nervioso, como un niño esperando a que se despierten sus padres el día de reyes.

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Por fin aterrizamos en Los Ángeles, donde el plan era recoger un coche de alquiler, previamente reservado, y conducir hasta San Marcos. Yo, que soy un ser humano optimista por naturaleza, pensé que pasar la aduana sería un trámite debido a mis anteriores experiencias. No podía estar más equivocado, hicimos cola durante 2 horas y media hasta que por fin pudimos pasar, enseñar el visado, dar nuestras huellas, etc…

Aproximadamente con 3 horas y media de retraso llegamos a la oficina de alquiler y mientras Jorge cuidaba las maletas yo me dispuse a tramitar el alquiler, que por cierto fue la gestión más fácil de todas las que habíamos hecho en todo el viaje. Los americanos y los coches se llevan bien. Cuando por fin nos montamos en el coche llevábamos más de 40 horas de viaje encima y una vez más, estábamos equivocados pensando que salir de Los Ángeles iba a ser un trámite.

Es una de las ciudades de EEUU con más atascos en las horas punta y bueno, nosotros no teníamos ni idea de lo que era el “Carpool Lane” (el carril express para vehículos de alta ocupación). Después de pasar más de una hora atascados en una autopista intentando salir de Los Ángeles, descubrimos lo que era el “Carpool Lane”, lo que hizo un poco más llevadero y rápido el viaje. Por suerte, durante las últimas millas previas nuestra llegada a San Marcos estábamos ya libres de tráfico viajando hacia el sur por la Interstate 5 que va pegadita a la costa y pudimos ver nuestra primera puesta de sol (Jorge mejor que yo, ya que yo iba conduciendo).

Tanto Jorge como yo habíamos concertado familias de acogida, así que fuimos primero a conocer a la suya y luego a la mía, acompañados de los responsables del programa de asignación de familias. Las dos familias eran de etnia y origen filipino y muy majas, tuvimos muy buena acogida por parte de ambas familias. Cabe decir que pagando $800 al mes, si no te tratan bien, sería el colmo de la desfachatez…

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Mi casa con la familia de acogida filipina

Mi familia vivía en una casa bastante grande con piscina y jacuzzy, que por cierto es bastante típico entre las familias adineradas aquí en el sur de California. Los primeros días eran de toma de contacto, alquilamos otro coche y compartíamos algunos planes. Ya con el coche de alquiler me puse manos a la obra con trámites como poner los papeles del Learning Agreement en regla con ambas universidades, comprar un teléfono americano, hacerme una cuenta de banco americana en dólares, hacer una entrevista de trabajo en el campus, probar mil coches y finalmente comprar los coches que íbamos a conducir durante este año…

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Probando coches con Jorge

Mi familia al principio me gustaba mucho pero cuando les fui conociendo más, fuimos teniendo desencuentros. El primero fue que su hijo de 22 años y yo (tengo 23) teníamos personalidades diametralmente opuestas. Yo soy muy extrovertido, activo y fiestero y el muy muy muy casero, así que como mucho jugábamos a la Play Station de vez en cuando. El segundo shock fue descubrir que eran de ideología cerrada republicana y convencidos votantes de Donald Trump. A mí, que en ese momento no tenía ni idea de política americana, me pareció terrible (ahora que se bastante más del tema me sigue pareciendo igual de horrible).

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Recogiendo el Wall Street Journal

A mayores eran cristianos muy devotos, con lo que no tengo ningún problema exceptuando que todos los domingos tenían una especie de estudio bíblico y misa dentro de su casa a las 9 de la mañana. Esto no hacia fácil ni descansar, ni hacer deberes o estudiar, porque la gente se quedaba hasta pasadas las 4 de la tarde. El primer y segundo domingo me pareció divertido e incluso participé en su ritual religioso y en su estudio bíblico. Pero al pasar los domingos, uno tenía una resaca terrible, otro tenía muchos deberes que hacer, otro día las dos cosas a la vez y así sucesivamente y deje de participar asiduamente.

Al tiempo, cuando quise volver a participar, sentí que se lo tomaron como una ofensa a su iglesia o comunidad cristiana, pero nunca me dijeron nada. Por último, tuvimos otro desencuentro relacionado con la comida, me dijeron que comía mucho mientras yo estaba adelgazando del orden de un kilo por semana… Un poco locura para una familia que tiene varias propiedades inmobiliarias, un Audi A6, más de un coche por persona y vive en una casa con jacuzzy, ¿no?

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Preparé tortilla española y sangría para mi familia

Llegado este punto, decidí aventurarme a buscar otro tipo de alojamiento y con mucha fortuna, encontré una casa compartida con jóvenes americanos estudiantes y trabajadores de entre 23 y 25 años, por un precio significativamente inferior al de la familia donde estaba viviendo. Así que, mes y medio después, hice las maletas y me vine a la casa donde estoy ahora, mucho más cerca de la universidad y mucho más a gusto.

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Pasando el día en la playa

Después de haber hablado sobre el viaje, primeras impresiones y familia voy a contaros un poco sobre el aspecto académico de esta primera parte de la aventura.

Antes de empezar las clases tuvimos un día de presentación todos los alumnos internacionales (o eso pensaba yo, resulta que había varios programas diferentes). En esa clase nos explicaron lo típico del funcionamiento de las clases, del campus virtual y del email académico para contactar a profesores y a la universidad para temas académicos.

La realidad empezó la semana siguiente. Me considero una persona difícil de asustar, pero la primera semana me comía las uñas de estrés. Iba todo muy rápido y no me enteraba de la mitad de lo que pasaba a mi alrededor. Afortunadamente pasadas unas semanas me acostumbré al ritmo de clases y trabajo, lo que hizo más llevadera la experiencia. El enfoque universitario aquí es mucho más practico que en España, muchos deberes y exámenes pequeños con test diarios para comprobar que estas aprendiendo al ritmo adecuado. Es mucho más fácil que en España sin lugar a dudas.

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Clase de econometría

En el campo de las amistades el principio fue duro, esta universidad es una Commuter School, lo que quiere decir que la inmensa mayoría de los alumnos no vive en la ciudad donde se ubica, sino que viven lejos y van todos los días en coche. Es por esto que la vida extra académica universitaria brilla por su ausencia. A parte de que la edad legal, no solo para beber sino para entrar en un bar son 21 años.

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Nuestra primera cerveza

En mi siguiente post os hablaré sobre la creación y evolución de las amistades, el trabajo, el final de las clases, los exámenes, las vacaciones de navidad en EEUU y quizá el inicio del segundo cuatrimestre.

 

EXPERIENCIAS EN ESPAÑA (por Gustavo Antonio Cardozo Vázquez)

Al llegar a España, la primera impresión que tuve fue la de estar llegando a un país en donde la cultura sería completamente distinta a lo que yo estaba acostumbrado, sin embargo, pasadas las primeras semanas empece a notar las similitudes que se daban. Me sorprendió lo hermoso que eran las ciudades por las cruzaba para llegar desde que salí del avión hasta llegar a la Ciudad de Valladolid. En ese trayecto recibí la ayuda de unos compatriotas, lo que me alegro mucho, ellos me sirvieron de guía para facilitar mi viaje a Valladolid.

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Plaza Mayor de Valladolid

Ya en la primera semana de mi estancia pude apreciar la belleza y diversidad de paisajes que posee el país. En la universidad me encantó la manera en que están organizados, tanto los académicos como los administrativos. Es una universidad que brinda además de las clases una excelente variedad de servicios a los estudiantes, con lo que es muy cómodo estudiar aquí.

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Día de Bienvenida

El personal del servicio de relaciones Internacionales de la universidad me brindo la ayuda e información necesaria para realizar los papeleos necesarios para establecerme en la universidad, como buscar alojamiento y como acceder a los servicios.

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Salón auditorio – Día de Bienvenida

A demás de todo esto, me sorprendió la increíble cantidad de instalaciones e equipos con los que cuenta la universidad para impartir las clases, como los laboratorios las bibliotecas. Brindan todas las herramientas para establecer un desarrollo profesional óptimo.

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Jornada Internacional de Agricultura de la Conservación

A pesar de que los primeros días fueron difíciles para mí, principalmente para adaptarme al cambio de horario, una vez me adapte al ritmo de aquí y fui conociendo a gente tanto de España como de otros países todo se me hizo más fácil.

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Amigos de la Movilidad

MY ERASMUS YEAR IN SPAIN (by Tran Thi Le Hang)

Palencia 27/11/2016

For me, the Erasmus program is one of the best programs. I am an Erasmus student in Spain and it is one of the best experiences in my life that I will never forget. I always feel that I am very lucky because I can find a list of different feelings and different things which a lot of my friends in Vietnam cannot.

    WHEN I APPLY FOR MY CV

It was a bad time. I’ve had very little time to prepare the documents and profiles. There was a lot of paperwork to apply.

    WHEN THE COUNCIL ACCEPT MY ERASMUS REQUEST

Oh my god! I was extremely happy and can’t stop imagining about my life in Spain. That is the first time that I go abroad and flying. I’ve called my parents in order to inform about it. They also were very happy and proud of me.

That is one of the most amazing times of my life. Then, I had to leave my hometown to come to the capital in order to apply for VISA. Everyone at the Uva international office contacted and helped us a lot. I cannot stop counting the days until my flight departure: Welcome to Spain, welcome to Erasmus life!

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My Madrid City Tour

LIFE IN SPAIN

My flight landed at Madrid airport, then I have to take the bus to the city of Valladolid for about 3 hours. My parents worried so much, and repeatedly called me. A few days later, I went to the city of Palencia. Although Palencia is smaller city than Valladolid but very romantic.

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Campus of Palencia in autumn

 

MY FIRST LECTURE IN UNIVERSITY OF VALLADOLID

At first, I went to field trip with two friends from Bangladesh and 10 friends from USA. I thought I can understand lectures by English but the truth I did not understand anything. Fortunately, two or three weeks later I can understand everything in the lecture. Because I get used to the accent of the teachers.

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Field trip in Cantabria with Proffesor Pablo Martin Pinto and my classmates

I must complete five courses in Palencia. including 2 courses I learned in my home country and the rest which I have not known ever. The teachers are very enthusiastic, I learned many things. And of course, I have a lot of tests, presentations, reports, deadlines… I don’t like them like all the other students.

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Field trip in Salamanca

What I like most fruit in spain is very tasty and very beautiful landscape. I think that Spanish people are very friendly and open. Despite difference languages but they always trying to help us a lot. They always say “ Hola!” and “ Gracias”. I really love Spain.

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Learning about trapping insects in the forest with porfessor and student from USA
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Border markers Spain – Portugal

Thank you!

STUDY IN SPAIN WITH LOTS OF JOY (by Nguyen Thi Dong)

Its near about 4 months ago, one day, suddenly, I received a letter from Erasmus programmer. I will stay one semester in Spain to complete my higher education. It made me very excited although I was worried because it was my first time to live my home country Vietnam. I did not know Spanish language and anyone in Spain.

I don’t forget my first day at here. It was funny but thrill, I did not know the way to go to the University of Valladolid. I asked a woman and she indicate the wright way  to arrive to University. I was also warried about my accommodation that was solved by the staffs of international relation office. All the staff are very enthusiasm, friendly and kindly. I have remembered clearly the day of orientation tour at Valladolid city with  Mr. Rubén Saornil Mínguez. I knew about many important thing of Valladolid city particular its history, culture and tradition.

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Introduced trip about the history, culture and tradition of Valladolid

Within 2 weeks I had a part of dynamic atmosphere, the annual festival week in Valladolid where I  enjoyed traditional music and dance in Spain. It made me more understood and I really fall in love with  the people of this nice city.

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The Traditional Festival week in Valladolid

In the meantime, I was teh active part of the excellent organize Erasmus+ KA107 program. I also started a introducing Spanish language course that was wonderful. actually it not only about the Spanish language but also to understand much more about history, culture and people in Spain. In addition I had an opportunity to visit many places in Spain. Among this travel, one of the important visit was in Madrid. I visited in Royal palace which had more 1000 rooms and the famous Prado National Museum. Moreover I also visited the beautiful and peaceful Segovia city and many other beautiful part in Spain.

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The Royal Palace in Madrid

After completion of my introductory Spanish language course, I had moved to the Palecia campus at the department of Sustainable Forest Management Research Institute-INIA to study mainly on Mediterranean Forestry and Natural Resources Management”. I met my two class mate, came from Bangladesh. I am very much happy with them.

At a time, I also introduce with Professors Felipe Bravo, Jose Reque, Pablo Martin Pinto, Rosaria Sierra, Elena Hidalgo and some research mainly Andres Bravo Oviedo, Ricardo Ruiz Pinado, Miren del Río from INIA, all are very enthusiasm, approachable, enchanting and helpful. Especially, Profesor Felipe Bravo introduced me with some of researcher and gave me best opportunity of my thesis work. Actually, this course is instructed with a lot of field trips in order to understand practical knowledge of Forestry sector in Spain. When I will return in Vietnam, for sure, this knowledge help me to solve many problem in our forest sector.

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Entomological experiment with Professor Pajares Juan, A.

Not only study on the class or go to field trips I regularly participate in the Lab classes with various modern technologies and techniques. The Lab classes are always interesting to me.

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Studying at the genetic Lab with Professor Elena Hidalgo

I have been staying in Spain from 3 months. Without any hesitation I am spending a great time, enjoying everything such as peoples, their lifestyle, beautiful landscapes and so on. Erasmus changed my life style and provide top class education that will partially and/or impartially helpful for my country.  Finally, some words I must want to express as emotional attachment, I will never forget this memorable journey whole of my life. Thanks to all, particularly who are directly and indirectly engage with this Erasmus+ KA107 programe.

MIS PRIMERAS EXPERIENCIAS EN VALLADOLID (por Gabriel Rodríguez)

Se podría decir que no empecé mi Beca ERASMUS KA-107 con buen pie, ya que por problemas con mi vuelo, me instalé en la cuidad con dos días de retraso, ya en fin de semana.

Llegué durante las Fiestas y Ferias de Valladolid, y me encontré con una gran cantidad de eventos y entretenimientos distribuidos por toda la ciudad. Por ese motivo, mis primeras experiencias por Valladolid fueron grandiosas y muy lindas.

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Concierto en directo en una plaza pública en el centro de la ciudad

Los procesos de acomodo y trámites que debía realizar, me coincidieron con el comienzo de las clases, por eso los primeros días me fueron un poco pesados por el cambio de horario, el cansancio del vuelo, y la adaptación a los primeros días de clases, pero ahora ya estoy a ritmo con los nuevos horarios.

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Asistencia a una conferencia en la Facultad de Comercio

La ciudad es muy linda, limpia y tranquila con muchas historias y un gran número de lugares a conocer y visitar, las personas de Valladolid son muy amables.

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Plaza Zorrilla, con la Academia de Caballería al fondo

Mi experiencia con el Staff de relaciones internacionales fue estupenda, me brindaron todo el apoyo necesario para que hoy pueda estar aquí sin ningún inconveniente, ya que el retraso que tuve para llegar fue un problema ajeno, de la aerolínea.

Cabe destacar también que desde que estoy aquí en la ciudad ya me hice de muchos amigos de diversas culturas y países, que en su conjunto son experiencias que te enriquecen como persona, y te dan una nueva y más amplia perspectiva de la realidad que existe más allá de lo que uno conoce.

THE PERK OF BEING AN ERASMUS (by Tuan Anh Nguyen)

If someone asks me how does it feels to be an Erasmus, I would sum it up in one word: meaningful. Throughout the past three months in Valladolid, I’ve had the chance to explore Spain, as well as other great parts of Europe. For those who is still having doubt, believe it or not, study abroad really change your life, make you feel more confident, sociable and even change your perception. You realized that an 8 – hour trip doesn’t scare you anymore, because you are an expert now, and you’ve survived a flight that cost only 15 euros. You feel erudite because you’ve been to those best museums in the world.

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Touching the pyramid at Louvre Museum – Paris

A wise man once said “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. From studying in Spain, I’ve had the opportunity to open my book to many pages. Over the past three months, I’ve seen and experienced so many wonderful things that I never expected to see and experience. I’ve been to Paris and see the Mona Lisa, taking a selfie pic with the Dutch lady in Amsterdam or visiting the Bernabeu Football stadium… The best thing about being an Erasmus student is, undoubtedly becoming a part of a global society with the best people around you.

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Taking picture with the Erasmus Student Network outside Guggenheim Bilbao Museum

I feel like I’m living in my dream, I’m meeting new people, I’m falling in love. I’m falling in love with Spain, with my city, with the people, and the language. In fact, today is my last day at the Language Center and we were having a final exam. I can’t believe that time flies like an arrow, I wish that today isn’t the final day, I wish that today is only the day of entrance test, that I still have a full semester ahead. Despite the fact that I’m very busy with the morning class, this language course never bored me. The teachers are adorable, they always find a way to help us feel less stressful and easier to acquire new knowledge. I’m not ready to leave this course yet, but whether I want it or not, it’s time to say goodbye. Now I don’t know about the future, but there’s one thing I know for sure, that when I come back to Vietnam, I will continue to learn Spanish, because to me, this is the best language in the world.

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Farewell photo at the Language Center – Valladolid

I couldn’t imagine that my first time abroad can be such amazing and wonderful like this. Indeed, being an Erasmus is one of the greatest gifts I could have ever been given.

STUDYING ABROAD: MY JOURNEY TO VALLADOLID (by Tuan Anh Nguyen)

So I’ve been in Valladolid for more than a month. I remembered 5 weeks ago I was still sitting in my room back in Vietnam, nervous and exciting all at once. I’ve never been abroad before, so you can imagine how terrified and anxiety I was. Living in your hometown for your whole life and suddenly you moved to a country half a world away with different culture, different language and lifestyle… The very thought of it frightened me. That’s how I feel at first.

One day before leaving, I started to pack my luggage. Since it’s my first trip abroad, I prepared almost everything, from the smallest things like knives, forks, chopsticks to those bigger like blanket or pillow, I even bring with me a rice cooker. It’s so funny because a lot of those things are unnecessary. Silly me!

Finally the big day came. I left my country for the first time and after 26 hours flying, I stepped my very first step in Spain, the country which I immediately fell in love with. My first impression is the transportation here is so good. Since when I came to Valladolid, I’ve never seen any traffic jam, and the people here are lovely, they even stop the car in the middle of the road to let you cross.

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Good transportation and a clean city / Buen transporte y una ciudad muy limpia

It is way better than in my country, where transportation is a nightmare, and so I go out a lot, despite of the cold weather, because for a person who is less likely to travel like me, being here is like Alice walking in wonderland. My favorite spot is the Facultad de Derecho, which means Faculty of Law in English.

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Faculty of Law / Facultad de Derecho

The Plaza Mayor – the main square is also very nice.

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The more I know about the city’s history, the more I find myself interested in it, so I spent my first two weeks here to go around and learn about the past of the city. Turns out that before Madrid, Valladolid was the capital of Spain for a short time. It is also the place where Christopher Columbus breathed his last, and once the home of famous authors Francisco de Quevedo and Miguel de Cervantes.
On week 3, I went to school to enroll and begin my international semester at the School of Industrial Engineering.

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Faculty of Engineering / Facultad de Ingenierías Industriales 

On my international semester, I have 3 courses in English and a Spanish language course. As people always say, learning a new language is like looking to the world through a new window, so I decided to learn Spanish, also because I want to understand more about Spanish culture and people. All the teachers are awesome, they treated me as if I were their children, and never hesitate to help me both inside and outside the class. The way they express the lessons is totally different compare to my country and although having class all day, I didn’t feel tired at all. And I met other students around the world. At first I didn’t know anybody, but now I have many friends, and the city feels like home to me.

This is Alfredo – teacher of my Spanish course. Don’t let the appearance fools you. He may looks very strict, but the truth is, he is very funny and enthusiastic. I am so lucky to have him as my teacher.

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And that’s my first month in Valladolid. For the next 4 months of my exchange program, I do not have any expectation, because I know for sure, that this semester is going to be the most exciting five months of my life, as I am really happy and enjoying my time here.