Random fact: Since term started in October, standard teaching days have been missed 4 times - due to 3 public holidays and 1 general strike!
I met up with my Direccion Comercial lecturer for a coffee the other day and she asked me what it was like for me as a British student to study in Spain. With no other university to compare this experience with except for Warwick, I was pretty surprised at how different it really is to study in another country.
Later that day I met up with my Course Director, who had come from England to pay us Erasmus students visit, and he asked me similar questions too: Is it what I expected, how does it differ, what's good and what's bad about it? He suggested I write my thoughts down for future reflection in my Year Abroad Portfolio.
I've decided to be lazy and write my observations down in a quick comparison table:
Update 27/12/2012: I finally finished my UPF exams on the 20th and now I'm settled down in England for the holidays I can reflect more on my exam period experience at UPF.
The first shocker was finding out that the UPF students can exercise "convocatoria de examenes" up to 4 times, which basically means they can retake a failed subject up to 4 times before being expelled from the university. This idea is totally foreign to me, as there are no retakes available in my degree - if you do badly once, you're lumbered with it, end of story. On the plus side, I can see the Spanish way means students learn the virtues of perseverance, and do not continue their degree with serious weak spots. On the other hand, I saw that it gave some students a reason not to revise for the winter exams. Indeed, some arrived completely unprepared, after finding out they had to at least attend the exam this round to be eligible for the second convocatoria.
During the actual exam, "exam conditions" did not exist as we know them at Warwick. The exams were held in lecture theatres where the invigilators could not pace up and down the columns. We were allowed to keep our bags by our feet and there were no restrictions on pencil cases. For my final exam I sat on the back row to minimize the chances of someone copying my answers, but unfortunately found myself in the centre of a 5 person cheating ring. The girl said to me just before we started that it was a "group effort" and could I please draw a big ring around the correct answers. Knowing I wasn't going to copy anyone else’s answers, I didn't want them to copy me either so I spent the whole exam hiding my answer sheet, and not being able to write down my workings on the exam paper!
Also different to back home is that during the exam, the lecturers stroll in and out of the different exam rooms and point out the mistakes on the exam paper as well as chat to various students who have issues. In my last exam, the lecturer surprised us all by giving us an hour less than was scheduled on the timetable but in the end it was manageable. In previous exams there was no time pressure and most people finished in half the time available.
All in all, my student experience at UPF was pretty chilled out - despite being unused to winter exams, I think the continuous assessment method is more suitable for me. I also enjoyed the fact that there was a group project in every module.
In January I will be switching to study in a private university called ESADE, so I look forward to comparing that experience with UPF.
- REVIEW: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott