October 27, 2013, by Guest blog

I will never regret my decision to study here

Post written by Ben West.

Zaragoza, Spain

After sharing the weight of my suitcase with a friend because of RyanAir’s forever-strict baggage restrictions, I arrived safe and sound in Zaragoza on September 9th, 2013. The first thing I have to give credit to is the Erasmus Student Network here at the University and their Erasmus Tutor scheme. Waiting, smiling and waving at the airport upon my arrival were two Spanish students from the tutor scheme; it was a welcome relief to be greeted with open arms by a (slightly) familiar face. With the help of my tutor, within a week I had moved in to my flat and had a bubbly bunch of friends who treated (and are still treating me!) as if they had known me for years.

In terms of the people here in Zaragoza, I was quite shocked at first to find that random people (that I’d never met) were greeting me both on campus and around the city. Gestures like that do not happen frequently in Nottingham. I knew before I came here that the people of the Aragón region were particularly welcoming, but this is an understatement. I can bet that you could approach anybody in any neighbourhood and they will gladly spare the time to help and talk to you; citizens of all ages are open and willing to embrace different cultures. I haven’t seen an ounce of violence or aggression whilst being here, which says it all I think.

The university experience is odd, in the most abstract use of the term. Unlike at Nottingham, where you enrol in your modules and take it from there, they operate a trial system here whereby you go to the classes that you fancy and then make your choices a few weeks in. In theory, this is great; you don’t have to commit to any subjects that you dislike. The downside is that you are ‘out of the loop’ until you enrol; you have no university e-mail, access to the library, Moodle or Wi-Fi around campus. This, to say the least, was problematic. It was no surprise, then, that when I asked my Spanish classmates why everything was so disorganised that they replied with ‘Pues, es la Universidad de Zaragoza’.

There is a certain homely feel to the city, for which words do not do justice. La Universidad de Zaragoza was one of the few undersubscribed universities amongst Nottingham students, and I still struggle to find out why. The Erasmus Student Network; warmth of the people; wealth of places to see, and things to do mean that I doubt I will never regret my decision to study here.

Posted in First impressions