UAB Study Abroad
The MicroEDU staff are totally helpful and the entire application process is very straightforward. You will be sent a list of the required documents, which you then simply have to submit to MicroEDU. The documents include: various UAB application forms (including a list of the courses you can take), a current transcript of records, proof of language proficiency (English level B2), a passport photo and a copy of your ID.
MicroEDU will then check the documents for completeness and then forward them to the UAB. This means that during the application process there is no contact with the UAB at all, everything runs through MicroEDU. The first direct contact with the university is then the acceptance of the study and the request for payment of the tuition fees.
If you are taking a Spanish course that is not at the beginner level, the application process also includes a short placement test by the UAB which stands for Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona listed on abbreviationfinder.
In general, the organizational effort is not high, as the UAB offers a pre-established program for international students and MicroEDU takes over the placement of the university in full.
Description of the university
The UAB essentially consists of three campuses. Bellaterra is the campus for the local and Erasmus students. It is a bit outside of Barcelona, but can be reached by train in 30-45 minutes. For those without Erasmus support, there are two campuses – one in the city center in Eixample and one in Sant Pau.
All of my lectures were on the Eixample campus, which is also the smallest campus. It is more reminiscent of an office building (I walked past it the first time without realizing that it was the campus) and has very small rooms. However, this also includes a computer room with freely accessible printers. There is no canteen / cafeteria. Due to the central location there are, however, a lot of cafes / restaurants in the area.
I only got to know the campus in Sant Pau through the introductory event and the add & drop period (in the first week you can still change / deselect courses). The campus there is really nice.
In general, the courses at the UAB are very small and attendance is compulsory, which makes you feel like you’re back at school. The compulsory attendance and participation, depending on the course, have a greater or lesser effect on the final grade and should therefore be taken seriously.
The courses each last 100 minutes, followed by a 20-minute break and a one-hour lunch break. You have each module twice a week – Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. In principle, Friday is free. On the international campus, the courses are predominantly made up of Germans and Americans (but not exclusively, of course – you will definitely get to know people from many different countries). The Spanish students are only on the Bellaterra Campus.
Barcelona and surroundings
Barcelona is an amazing city to live in! If you walk through the city, you will come across beautiful buildings again and again, such as the Gaudi houses. You can also find relaxed cafés or restaurants on every corner.
When I arrived at the end of August, it was still very warm and we spent a lot of time on the beach. Even into the winter months, the weather is mostly good (on my last day on December 18th, I was outside for breakfast at almost 20 degrees).
The beach is still very crowded with tourists, especially in the summer months, but of course it is still worth it. In general, the tourist popularity of Barcelona is already very noticeable, especially until the end of October, but this does not detract from the city’s beauty. Especially in the districts of El Raval, Barri Gotic, Gràcia and Barceloneta (the beach district) there are numerous small streets to explore.
Due to the small alleys, the mentioned quarters are also a hotspot for pickpockets and you shouldn’t wander around here alone (and possibly drunk) at night. In general, it should be said that Barcelona is definitely a stronghold for pickpockets. However, if you pay attention to a normal extent, this is usually not a problem.
In addition to the more well-known sights such as the Gaudi Houses or of course the Sagrada Familia (which is definitely worth going into – it’s best to buy tickets in advance on the Internet), the Bunkers del Carmel were an absolute highlight for me. They are located on a mountain on the outskirts of the city and offer a breathtaking view over the whole of Barcelona. Especially in the summer months it is really awesome to have a picnic up there.
Barcelona is also fantastic for going out. There are numerous bars and discos. La Mercè also takes place at the end of September. This is a city festival where numerous events (such as parades) take place all over Barcelona. In general, you can use the Erasmus Barcelona app to keep yourself up to date on events and trips on offer.
The small beach town of Sitges is also close to Barcelona. It is definitely worth making a day trip there.
In terms of mobility, Barcelona is very well equipped. The metro / bus network brings you to all places very quickly and reliably. It makes sense to buy the three-month T-Jove ticket for Zone 1. It costs 105 € and in Zone 1 Barcelona is completely included.
In general, Barcelona is not a cheap city to live in. It will be difficult to find something below € 400, and even in the range between € 400 and € 500, not all apartments on offer are beautiful. Basically, however, you can expect a rent of between € 400 and € 600. I initially traveled to Barcelona without an apartment and booked a hostel for the first few nights (the Jam Hostel in Gràcia is recommended, albeit a bit away from the city center around Placa Catalunya). For looking for an apartment, I then mainly used the Idealista, WG-Gesucht, uniplaces and spotahome apps (the latter two being recruitment agencies that incur a fee). In the end I found my flat share via Facebook. I joined numerous groups there (for example Rent a room (Barcelona), Barcelona Apartments, Rooms / Flats for rent in Barcelona – there are really many groups).
I was very satisfied with the location (between Sagrada Familia and Arc de Triomf) and the price (450 €) of the apartment. The location is central, but not in one of the more “dangerous” districts (see above). However, I was not satisfied with the apartment itself, as it was very shabby. However, since I was mostly only there to sleep, it was still okay for the short duration. Nevertheless: take a week to find a nice apartment and don’t necessarily go for the next best thing.
Description of the courses taken
My courses took place as follows:
Mondays / Wednesdays
- 11:00 am – 12:40 pm: HRM: Finding your Place in Organizations
- 1:40 pm – 3:20 pm: Strategic Management of the Firm
- 3:40 pm – 5:20 pm: The Creative Economy
Tuesdays / Thursdays
- 11:00 am – 12:40 pm: Managerial Skills for International Business
- 3:40 pm – 5:20 pm: Spanish
Overall, the courses at the UAB are much more interactive and educational than at my home university (this is of course also favored by the small course size of around 20 to a maximum of 35 students). In addition, there is a lot more to do during the semester through various group work. Homework is also not uncommon – as I said, the whole system is much more scholastic than in Germany. Often there is also a midterm exam. Conversely, this means that the end of the semester is not as stressful as in Germany.
The Creative Economy (Jean-Philippe Charles)
In this course you mainly learn different creativity techniques (Six Thinking Hats, Reversal Method etc. ) and innovation methods (Design Thinking, Blue Ocean Strategy etc. )
Jean-Philippe is very enthusiastic about the topic and brings the content across very well. The grade for this course consists of a midterm, a final exam (25% each), two group presentations (6% each), participation / attendance (18%) and a group project in which you have to use the various methods to learn to develop an idea and present it on a website (20%) together. So you have a lot to do and the exams were some of the most difficult (but still feasible).
Still, I would definitely recommend the course! I had a lot of fun and it was definitely my favorite course. Jean-Philippe manages to infect you with his enthusiasm and also makes sure that you not only learn the methods, but also change your perspective on problems in general.
Strategic Management of the Firm (Adriana Espinet)
In this course we mainly dealt with various analysis tools for internal and external company analysis (Business Model Canvas, PESTEL Analysis, Strategic Group Mapping, etc. ). Adriana has worked as a consultant for a long time (now also as a freelance) and you definitely notice her competence – but her expectations are correspondingly demanding.
You can choose between two evaluation options with her. Either you write a final exam or you decide on the “Continuous Evaluation”, which consists of three group work / presentations (one on the subject of external analysis, one on the subject of internal analysis and one on the subject of innovations). In both variants, participation / attendance and a business article on any strategy-related topic are also included in the grade.
The continuous evaluation means a lot more work during the semester, but you can definitely get a better grade with this variant, because the final exam with Adriana is really very difficult (she says herself too). Since I chose Continuous Evaluation, this course was my most labor-intensive. Due to the high demands on the presentations, my presentation and powerpoint skills have definitely improved.
HRM: Finding your Place in Organizations (Maydo Arderiu)
This course is very much about your own career planning / development. Maydo originally comes from the coaching sector and you notice that very strongly. We did numerous exercises in which we dealt a lot with ourselves (what are our values? What is really important to us? Where do we want to go in life?).
These exercises and their results were also part of a marketing plan about ourselves that we developed over the course of the semester and that is included in the final grade with 60% (!). The remainder of the grade is made up of 20% participation / attendance and a blog. In the blog we had to write a small entry about each session (What did I take away / learn from this session?). A little tip: You get a really good rating if you add pictures and videos to the blog entries.
In general, it is really easy to get a very good grade on this course with relatively little effort.
Maydo is a good-hearted person and some of the exercises are really interesting and make you reflect on yourself. In my opinion, it still takes a bit of getting used to, as it can be a bit chaotic at times. In terms of subject matter, I didn’t learn a lot in this course. But that is definitely not Maydo’s focus – she is more about helping us advance in our career planning.
Managerial Skills for International Business (Maydo Arderiu)
Managerial Skills was the second course I took at Maydo. The course covers a variety of topics (from negotiation techniques to motivation and leadership to creativity and emotional intelligence).
Due to the large number of different topics, these are only dealt with superficially.
What I really liked about the course, however, was that Maydo underpinned the content with many examples from films and “outdoor activities” (team building activities in the park across the street).
In addition, it is easy to achieve a very good grade in Maydo’s second course. The grade consists of a midterm and final exam (30% each) and participation / attendance (40%). The midterm and final exams are just 15-minute tests with 20 true / false questions (which are really easy to answer).
Spanish 45h (Fernando Moresi)
I was in a Lower Intermediate (B1. 1) Spanish course.
I had a lot of fun with the course, which was mainly due to the lecturer Fernando. He’s in his early 40s, but looks like he’s still a student himself and is a super easy-going and incredibly funny guy. Since we were only 10 students in the course, the atmosphere was totally relaxed. The lessons consisted almost entirely of oral exercises and games. The grade consists of a midterm and a final exam, each of which has an oral and a written part.
Due to the relaxed atmosphere, nobody was afraid of making mistakes and you could try your hand at it. So if you have Fernando as a Spanish teacher, you can really look forward to it (although I haven’t heard anything negative about the other courses either).
There was no specifically responsible person at the UAB. However, all of the staff I had to deal with were really nice and helpful.
In the add & drop period, I was able to easily switch to another group for a course where the time suited me better.
Even when I was sick for a few days, there were no problems with the Administration Office.
So apart from the fact that the biggest tip is of course to do a semester abroad, there are also a few things in Barcelona that are particularly recommended.
- From a culinary point of view, I have two recommendations. The (in my opinion) best breakfast place in Barcelona is called “Brunch El Petit Princep”. Totally cozy shop, super nice staff and of course very tasty food and cappuccino.
- A really good tapas restaurant is called “Tosca del Carme”.
- If you want a great view of the Sagrada Familia, you should go to the Ayre Hotel Rosellón. There you can buy a drink for little money and get access to the roof terrace.
- In addition, as a non-Erasmus student, you can buy the ESN card (Erasmus Student Network) for € 15 at the Bellaterra or Sant Pau campus. The card gives you discounts in some bars. You also have a 15% discount on six Ryanair flights and one free piece of luggage. The card is valid for one year.
- As for travel, I can highly recommend the Morocco trip offered by ESN. It is a 5-day trip where you can choose the time yourself. The trip itself costs 155 €, but you have to pay for the flights yourself (for us it was another 160 €). The trip includes two nights in Marrakech, as well as a road trip through the Atlas Mountains into the Sahara desert with an overnight stay there. You can book the trip in the Erasmus Barcelona app. It’s worth it!