I just returned to Vancouver from a seven-month exchange term at the University of Navarra in Spain, and I want to share with you some of the amazing experiences I had and the unique places I discovered. Despite being an international student in Canada, adapting to a new country was still a challenge for me. I was overwhelmed when meeting and connecting with new people but learned to live like a Spaniard throughout my exchange term.
The academics offered at the University of Navarra were really interesting, but the best part was having the opportunity to interact with local students and improve my Spanish speaking skills. Every Thursday night the University Student Engagement group organized an event called “Pintxos Night” (Pintxos are typical Spanish snacks, more commonly known as Spanish tapas, which goes very well with white wine). In addition, they also organized Salsa dancing at least three to four times a month. I also got an opportunity to play football (soccer) with the Spaniards; and I have no doubt that these people are born as talented football players. All these experiences gave me the Spanish culture exposure I craved as well as an opportunity to network with locals and other international students like myself.
In addition to partaking in Spanish activities, I took advantage of my days off and traveled around Spain on weekends or long holidays. Amongst all the places I visited in Spain, my favourites were Madrid and Granada. In the capital city of Madrid, I was completely mesmerized by the old classic European architecture. Being a real Madrid and Christiano Ronaldo fan, I also watched a few La Liga games (the top division of professional soccer in Spain). I was really amazed to see my favourite soccer star Ronaldo live in action, showing off his soccer skills and challenging his opponents. In Granada, I found a small, beautiful town located in the mountain of Sierra Nevada that is famous for the Alhambra Palace, a Muslim fortress built hundreds of years ago.
After my exchange term finished, I began backpacking with few of my friends. We travelled across Europe, starting from Portugal and making our way up towards Holland. Amongst all the places we visited, my favourite one was Cinque Terre, Italy. During my time in Italy, we hiked, and swam in the Mediterranean Sea and we tried all the famous Italian Cuisines.
I am really grateful that International Student Services and the Beedie Global exchange program gave me an opportunity to explore parts of Spain and Europe, which I have never experienced. Don’t think twice, BeGlobal!
Macky is in his final year, concentrating in Finance and Economics. He went on exchange in Spring 2014 at the University of Navarra, Spain. The overall Spanish culture, their language and his love of football enticed him to go to Spain and experience the undiscovered. Macky loves travelling and looks forward to discovering other continents on this planet.