An international student’s experience
University of Alicante is a beautiful and large campus, home to around 2,000 staff (probably nearly as many plants varieties) and near 30,000 students (about 1500 international). It is actually located in the Alicante suburb city of San Vicente which is about a 20-30 minute bus or tram ride from the city center. The university houses departments in a variety of fields but additionally has a language center, Centro Superior de Idiomas, which offers intensive month to month language courses. My first semester here was primarily spent in courses in this program and I have only good reviews to offer.
This semester I am officially a student of the UA, taking regular courses with the Spanish students. Not much has really changed as my new class is in the same building as my language courses but I got a fancy new I.D. card and access to an online portal.
After visiting a variety of classes that I chose based on internet summaries and schedule compatibility, I am enrolling in Violencia de Género, which so far has been really cool. The course will have four teachers over the semester, each teaching a different module. The professor is delightful. She is energetic and friendly and made me feel welcome despite being an international student.
What is different about life at UA than attending college in the U.S?
✺The professors are often late. Not like 5 min but 10-15 (which is not surprising of the monochronically time oriented culture). Just hang out and chat with friends while you wait. If class is cancelled, there will likely be a sign on the door or you’ll receive an online notice. No pasa nada. (fortunately, your timeliness is also more flexible than in the U.S.)
✺Eating in class is not a thing. Maybe you will have a water bottle with you but consuming food in class is generally not permitted
✺Students dress up for class (and most Spanish people in general). Sweatpants, pajamas, or other informal attire is ¿socially prohibited? Whether your class is at 9am or 7pm, le da igual, dress nice
✺Testing is different in Europe as well. It is more common to have a final exam be up to 50% of your grade with smaller assignments through the semester. Make sure to know the expectations of the class before matriculating and anticipating what kind of evaluation is a good fit for you
✺Another big difference is attendance. Only in recent years has it become more required. Officially, they cannot require it, but may count it towards your participation points. In many classes, there are two options for the final evaluation. Often the student who attends class will have the option of a presentation or paper instead of a large final exam whereas a student who attends class less frequently will take the option of a large final exam
✺Dorm life? I can’t say I know much, other than that it is not very common for Spanish students to live on campus and primarily is used by international students. Many students live with their families and commute daily or will stay with a family member/friend during the week to attend classes and return home on the weekends to their towns
✺Ever heard the term “deafening silence”? Well if you want to experience it, head to library for three sprawling floors of it. There are desks for all and books on books (as expected) and the view from the third floor offers a spectacular panoramic perspective of the extensive mountains in the distance. One side of the building is a glass window all the way down and across and gives way to wonderful natural light. I have yet to utilize the facility (with its 24 hour availability) but I am sure I’ll find myself there soon. *Pro-tip-don’t wear squeaky shoes. I learned the hard way
✺If you are looking for a not-so-silent place to study or hang out, there are 4 “club sociales” on campus which each offer a unique environment. They are cafeteria like buildings with fresh food, coffee and deli options with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. They also have restaurants if you want a sit down meal. They are a great place for down time and chatting with music playing in the background and some even having table games like foosball.
Surely there’s more things to know and more differences to notice but take what I am offering now and stay tuned for other important updates.
Between the palm trees, orange trees, and countless water features and fountains, the UA is a great place to be. Highly recommend.
Check out the schools offical website here and some of my own photos below.