I have been so busy with preparing for the assessment centre that I haven´t had a chance to make a post about Budapest and Paris yet, and I´ve left my notes at home so for now I will talk about ESADE.
Currently I am sitting in the library (the Sant Cugat campus). It's my first day at this uni and I have attended one 3 hour lecture so far. A few things have struck me so I will jot them down briefly before I forget.
Firstly, what my colleagues told me last year is true: I'm on a course here made specifically for the exchange students. There are a lot of us here, about a hundred so I've been told. This means that our classes are not attended by ESADE's "authentic" Spanish student - bar one guy that is in my class because he needs to get extra credits. What does this mean for me? Well, for one, the class was overwhelmingly represented by the USA and from the class discussion in Positive Marketing, many of them are only at beginners level in Spanish language. Luckily for them, the teacher said that they can be examined in English and express themselves in English if it's easier. Luckily for me, I happened to sit by some Puerto Rican guys (although they are students in the USA) so they are fluent in Spanish. It would be very interesting to meet some of the "real" ESADE students and see if they live up to the rumours that they are "pijo" and loaded.
The first professor I've seen is very passionate about the subject and is very interested in getting to know us better. At the beginning of the lesson he asked us to fill out questionnaires about our past jobs and future aspirations so he can tailor the course to the different "segments" of us. The final question was particularly intriguing, asking us to divulge a secret about us that is not socially acceptable, which although it couldn't be something illegal, he said would not make public. In part of getting to know us, he also wanted us to drop him an email him if our grades at ESADE mattered to our uni back home (so we couldn't do badly), as well as a sample of our past grades. Exactly why this would affect our grade now, I am still unsure.
Finally, the campus is modern and more sleek then UPF, (although smaller, with lessons only in one building). Then again, ESADE does charge approximately over 8 times the fees that UPF does. Lastly, the library does not appear to have a loud or groupwork section, but there are other study areas dotted around.
Until next time!
So I know I went to Budapest in January, but since I started uni again I've been too busy to sit down and formally write my post about this trip, so two months later, here goes!
Budapest (pronounced Budapesht) is the hustling and bustling capital of Hungary... well, sort of. Whilst it is the largest city and arguably the most important one for this Eastern European country, at the time that I visited it was pretty dead. Featuring snow, rain and below-freezing temperatures, January is the coldest month of the year and understandably, the tourism was off-peak and even locals didn't want to venture outdoors.
On day one we arrived in the evening and successfully navigated our way from the airport to the hostel, which was called Rastel Hostel probably because it's ran by Rastafaris. Keen to stock up on snacks, we were delighted to see there were many Tesco supermarkets around where we could see some gastronomic differences. We then explored Ráday utca, Budapest's famous street restaurant street, where I enjoyed a lovely meal featuring some traditional sour cream.
We kicked off the next day with a free walking tour of the Pest side, where we got to learn a lot more about Hungarian culture as well as see some classic city sites. Some interesting things I was told by my tour guide (and haven't found evidence online to support them) include:
Getting around Budapest
Travelling around Budapest was relatively simple. I think in normal weather conditions you could definitely explore the city by foot as it is rather small. There is however, a reliable (but not heated) network of metros, buses and trams.
The Budapest Metro is the second oldest electrified underground railway system in the world and whilst being timely and efficient, still rocks some old school infrastructure. The quaint yellow Line 1 - a declared World Heritage Site - took us conveniently to the popular Széchenyi thermal bath, which were the highlight of the trip. I was shrieking like a girl when I had to run in a bikini across snow and gravel to get into the warm waters in the outdoor pools but I look back fondly on the memory now :)
Night-life and social scene
The night-life we experienced was pretty hit and miss. We visited two gay bars, one aimed at the older generation where I had a dance with a nice gentleman who looked a bit like a Sontaran from Doctor Who and chatted to the pessimistic yet cheerfully sarcastic bar man about the social and economic issues in his country. We tried the typical Hungarian drink unicum and then moved on to a slightly more happening bar where I made the mistake of ordering us some cocktails on the basis that they "sounded fun". One was a disgustingly strong cosmopolitan-lookalike, whilst I got lumbered with something awful made with black coffee!
On another day we braved the crap arctic weather to go to a nightclub called 5kert, where it seemed all the beautiful young people of Budapest had been hiding all along. This brings to mind a funny incident at a laundry/internet cafe, where the owner who had been recommending us bars to try said as we were leaving "Wait, look at this!". We turned back and he swivelled his monitor round and showed us this - which made my friend think we were going to be murdered or something!
Budapest in my opinion is a great place to go to and look at cultural sites and learn more about a place that is really quite different from anything in Western Europe. It's very accessible through Easyjet and extremely cheap, especially if you search for well-disguised local canteens such as Frici Papa - just don't expect anyone to even say hello to you when you enter or leave a restaurant! Also on the food note, Hungary has markets dedicated to selling it's paprika and sausages, but you may suffer a little in terms of finding vegetarian options in non-touristy restaurants. One thing I didn't do there was go into Labyrinth of Buda Castle, because it was pretty expensive and wouldn't even have been scary because the tunnels were wide and well lit - which might be right up your street! I did however give in to buying a shot glass as a souvenir and kept a 100 Forint coin for memories.
My top advice for anyone visiting Budapest? Come in the summer so that you aren't miserably cold and so that there's no fog obstructing the lovely views you can get of the river, parliament and city from the Buda mountain!
13/01/2013 Since I took part on a 3 week all expenses paid youth project in Berlin back in April 2011, I have always vowed to come back to this awesome city. This time I am staying in a hostel in the former East Berlin, whereas last time I stayed in the trendy Kreuzberg from the West side.
The hostel is quite cool, and definitely has a family feel to it, given that the dorm-rooms don't have locks on them, and the staff are nowhere to be seen. Me and my friend are staying in a 8 person dorm but only 3 other people are in it currently. The hostel is overwhelmingly dominated by UK and it's Commonwealth compatriots, so we've had fun picking up some Australian and kiwi accents.
The other young people here seem to be living life as it comes and I think Benji and I are the only students here. There also appears to be a great penchant for drug use here but our dorm-mates are very friendly.
So far we've dined at an feasted on authentic Prussian food at Marjellchen, done the alternative tour of Berlin's street art, and partied in Ritter Butzke (although the music was not to my liking)! Oh, and I turned 21!
15/01/2013 Just a quick update. Yesterday we did the historic walking tour and our guide was Finn from Belfast who had a lovely accent and an incredible knowledge of Berlin's history. His enthusiasm was much needed given that the tour was 4 hours walking in -6°C, with snow for half of it. This did make the Jewish Memorial all the more beautiful though.
Some interesting things I've learned while here are:
Anyway, we are leaving tomorrow afternoon and I'll be sad to leave Berlin. My next post will be covering my stay in Budapest, Hungary! Photos will be put up when I get a chance.
Bye for now!
27/03/2013 Finally getting round to putting up a select few photos:
Just a quick relfection on my new year so far and what my plans are.
I got my UPF exam results two days ago and quite pleased. Investigacion de Mercados was my best subject overall, and Juegos de Empresa was also great as my team came first place in the business game, which boosted our grades. For Direccion Commercial, which was probably my favourite subject content-wise, I think looking back I should have spoken-up more in seminars as this let my grade down slightly. However, I am soon starting at ESADE, where my timetable is looking pretty horrific compared to Warwick, with 18 hours of uni crammed into 4 days a week, not including my volunteering!
Unfortunately I'm going to have to miss my very first ESADE lecture as I have an assessment centre with IBM that day, back in England. I think my lecturer won't mind though as he might even be an ex-employee given the module he teaches. I have never done a selection day before so I am nervous but equally looking forward to taking away some important lessons from the experience.
Before I embark upon my ESADE adventure I still have a jam-packed Euro-trip to get through! Me and a friend are going to cover Berlin, Budapest and Paris within a week, which means along with the Year Abroad Seminar, I'll have been in 6 countries in 2013!
But I'm not the only one jumping on a plane in March. Whilst I'm going to Italy for weekend with Warwick Business School, my mum is setting off for Peru to visit my poorly granddad. Neither of us has visited Peru in over 3 years so it is about time she finds out what is going on there - I'm quite jealous I won't be able to join her.
Other family news is that on Christmas Day my half-sister got engaged to her boyfriend of over 10 years, and my uncle/godfather to his girlfriend Harmeet. This means I will definitely get to go to a wedding in the near future as I've never been to one in my life! I would also love it if Dave and Harmeet could have an Indian style wedding (including an elephant) - do they have bridesmaids?
I'm flying to Barcelona tomorrow, so I must dash, as you can tell I'm a very busy bee at the moment!
30/01/2013 UPDATE: It appears the UPF marks have been moderated since I last looked at them and this has made my marks even better so I am super happy now!
- REVIEW: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott