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I’ve been talking a lot about my Erasmus experience. But I didn’t conclude that chapter. It’s been almost two months since I returned from Santiago, and I want to share a little about what I’ve learned there.
My Erasmus experience in Spain
Flying to a new country, completely alone, was quite frightening. But, sitting in the Office of mobility, listening about the exchange program, and in the end, applying was probably the most exciting experience of my life. Studying abroad was always a great interest of mine, and last year, I finally found the courage to apply for it.
University of Santiago de Compostela
I applied for the University of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. USC has three campuses, two located in the city, while the third one is about a hundred kilometers away, in Lugo. The Faculty of Philology is part of the Campus Norte. The program includes Spanish, Galician, French, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, German, English, Latin, and Greek philology. Apart from that, you can also study linguistics and literary theory. My interest was in Italian linguistics and literature.
The official language of the University of Santiago de Compostela is Galician. That’s a language similar to Castellan Spanish and Portuguese. I took two classes in Galician and the other three in Italian.
The Faculty’s library collection includes more than 210 000 volumes of monographs and more than 2 500 magazine titles. Other than that, there is a Center of Foreign Languages, a language lab, and a cafeteria, which makes for comfortable studying there. USC promotes the proper values and encourages the students to be involved in social questions. I noticed that great attention goes to mental health and women’s rights.
The semester starts in October, and January is an exam month. I am more than satisfied with my studies there, the results, the support of the professors, the lectures, and the approach to the program. Taking an exam in a foreign language was not a big obstacle for me either.
Getting in touch with USC, I’ve got all the necessary information about my obligations coming to Santiago. As an EU citizen, I didn’t need a visa, but usually, getting it is one of the necessary steps. Apart from that, I had to purchase insurance called OnCampus. (important: if you are an EU citizen, get the EU health insurance card!) I had to send the confirmation of the purchase, together with the plane ticket and my accommodation contract to the Office of Mobility. The scholarship should cover the costs.
Now, talking about the scholarship, it managed to cover all my costs, but I have to say that this may not be the case for all the destinations. It depends on the country you selected. How does it work?
Once we got to Santiago, we received the first check. That is the scholarship that comes from the EU funds. We then cashed that check, but for the payments for the following months, we had to open a Spanish bank account. That can get complicated because we have to close it before leaving Spain. The other option is opening an account with an online bank. I used Revolut because it worked for me. I could receive the scholarship on it and could pay for my rent and everything else. Also, I didn’t need to close the account before I left.
ESN Santiago de Compostela
The Office of mobility helped with all the questions regarding the studies, the documents, and so on, but concerning living in the city, ESN Santiago de Compostela helped us.
Erasmus Student Network has its headquarters in Bruxelles and offices in all the Erasmus cities. They take care of the students doing the exchange. ESN Santiago de Compostela is a part of the Buddy program at USC, and they were our first contact apart from the USC administration. They help students find accommodation and organize activities in the city, like tours, dinners, parties, games, and so much more, as well as trips to other cities.
What I’m taking back from my Erasmus experience
In five months of being there, I had the opportunity to truly get to know Santiago, explore Galicia, see so many wonders, listen to their rich and fascinating history, and learn the importance of their language. I improved my Spanish language skills, as well.
I tasted the traditional dishes, learned a recipe or two, talked with the locals, and learned about the beauty of that region. (tip: get a notebook where you save all the memories – tickets, receipts, etc.) I am most thankful for my study experience and the professors who truly inspired me and showed me new approaches to the subjects I’m studying. I am also forever grateful for the beautiful people from around the world I met there.
Staying in Santiago forever changed the way I see the world. Personally, it helped prove to me that I’m capable and strong. It fed my curiosity and inspired me. It also gave me beautiful friendships. Academically, it forced me to face all challenges and not take the easy way out just because I was scared. It served as an encouragement to face all doubts and insecurities I had. In Santiago, I felt safe and inspired. Although I lacked some vitamin D, those low grey Galician clouds never made me regret this experience.
I hope you find this post helpful. Maybe now you’ll apply for a program yourself? If so, I wish you the best of luck and hope you have fun! Or you’ve already been on the exchange program? If so, how was it? I’d love to hear all about it.