First of all, I never planned a visit to Spain this summer. Actually, I had another plan: to climb the highest mountain of Southeast Asia - Mount Kota Kinabalu this July with my best friends. That activity plan was made since one year ago, however things always happen out of the plan!
At the end of May, I received an email from my Spanish lecturer about the scholarship from SENAI to study abroad at Barcelona, Spain, for one month in the summer this year. I had some hard times to struggle and decide to abandon my original trip.
If you ask me how to define my international experience, I would say that is a bit difficult to explain in only one or two words. My international experience is more like a process or journey of learning and self-development from domestic to global eyesight. The international experience I have gained started once I departed from the airport. I learned to be independent, because this was the first time I traveled alone to such a long journey (approximately 20 hours) and definitely I success to reach the destination safe and sound!
Besides, my international experience is also about to meet people from all over the world and make friends! I have met many people from different places whose have shared their stories of their countries to me and in exchange I have shared the stories of mine too! Nevertheless, I have experience the difference of education system and teaching style in international level. Therefore, with this opportunity, I think that I have gained a better me with wider eyesight and brighter mind! I believe that I have gained the confidence in myself that my future should not only limit in our home country.
The biggest joy for me in this summer program is to experience the differences between Spain and Malaysia. Cultural difference for example the Spanish style of greetings, the cuisine and eating habits, the chillax lifestyle (siesta and fiesta) have impressed me a lots! Nevertheless, the university experience in Spain is totally difference from my university in Malaysia too! The size of campus which I entered is not that huge if compared with my campus in Malaysia but the design of buildings and facilities is new, modern and more up-to-date than my own university. The teaching style of professors in ESADE, Spain, is different from my previous professors in Malaysia. For instance, the professor of one of my courses -intercultural communication- knew the names of all students in the first lesson and he knew our strengths and weaknesses very well which he managed to pinpoint our flaws, keep encouraged and improved us and made us be more confident after the end of lessons. We even have our own video which recorded our performance in presentations from the first lesson to the final lesson. I can feel like having a personal coach which I've never experienced in my own university. In the university in Spain, I experienced the difference of learning style between the students of western countries and eastern countries (Asia). Western students are more active in class whereas the Asian students are more passive. This is well presented during the lessons as western students are more energetic in participating in class by asking and answering the questions from professors whereas the eastern students usually like to be listeners and seldom willing to give opinions. Their way of learning and passion in study have impressed me and made me learn from them.
After staying one month in Spain, I have truly lived the local life there, and there are things I love the most and the least about Spain. I am thankful that I was staying in Sant Cugat, a small town, instead of the city center of Barcelona because the small town is more peaceful, comfortable and suitable for studying and living than the overwhelming tourist hotspot in Barcelona. Talking about my favorites of Spain, first of all, I love their spirit of work hard, play hard, which make them being serious during work times but not forget to relax during weekend or off working times.
This experience is somehow challenging me and it has taught me how to face those challenges. First of all, to accept the offer of scholarship to join the summer program has taught me how to face time constraint. During the period of scholarship announcement, it was my final exam period in my university. I have to be multitasking, studied for exam and prepared for Barcelona in only 2 weeks. I am very lucky to have the assistances from SENAI team during that time which guided me all the times, help me in transportations, accommodations and many things else in the limited times. Not forget to thank to the diplomacy of Malaysia government with European Union which allow Malaysian citizen travel to EU without visa for 90 days. This had saved my time on the procedure of application of visa.
Besides, I have faced my mental preparation problems. As I mentioned above, this is my first overseas long haul journey. I felt very excited and adventurous at first but also felt worried after that because I was the only one travel all along from Malaysia to the other side of the globe. Again, the professionalism of SENAI team has soothed and calmed me a lots by their prompt response all the times. Their efficiency and effectiveness in answering all my questions on email and through Skype have made me felt confidence and reliable on them. Without their helps I would not have such pleasure experience study abroad in Spain! After I’m back in my country, many peoples are curious and have asked me about my study experience in Spain and I would definitely recommend SENAI to them!
When I had to leave, I was so happy to return home but so depressed to be leaving such an amazing and incredible city. Barcelona, will always have a special place in my heart and I cannot wait to return! I am so thankful for the supports from my family, my teachers, my friends and my beloved SENAI team members. After all, I would like to give some words to any students who wish to study in Spain but still struggling, do not hesitate to give yourself a chance to gain a wonderful lifetime experience and with the help of SENAI team of course. Need not to worry about pickpocket, Barcelona is a safe and beautiful city!
And you? what are you waiting for? Spain awaits you!
As usual, feel free to comment, share and like