tips for study abroad UPV - Office of International Education

Tips on Studying Abroad at the Universidad
Politécnica de Valencia in Spain
Want to know what it’s like to study abroad? Want to know what your peers think? Your fellow
Georgia Tech students who have previously gone on this exchange program gave their opinions so
that future participants have the inside scoop on their host institution and host country.
• I would have gotten many diverse classes
approved before going.
• I chose my program because I knew that I
really wanted to learn Spanish and to experience
a new culture.
• Valencia was the only place that CEE majors
could go in Spain, so that’s where I went. I in
no way regret not being in Barcelonoa or Madrid.
Valencia has a lot to offer including a
smaller, more familiar and authentic Spanish
city.
• Valencia is definitely not small. It is the 3rd
largest city in Spain, so don’t worry about
running out of things to do or being bored.
From the City of Arts and Sciences, the
beach, and the historical center it really does
stand out as an original and lively city.
Preparation & Getting Started
• The intensive language course is one of the best decisions I’ve made in
Spain—it’s great for meeting everyone and getting settled into life.
You’ll only have class until about 1 or 2 everyday for 2 weeks, so the
afternoons and weekends are free. Don’t be intimated by your placement
in the language course—it helps you improve.
• A 6 out of 10 is the equivalent of a C at GT
• Final exams are worth at least 50% of your
grade and not much homework is given.
• Avoid classes taught in Valencian/Catalan
• Make sure to take classes at the appropriate
level
• Laboratories at the university are taught in
Spanish. I would say in general, it is not
necessary to speak Spanish to attend UPV,
however it is quite helpful in some situations and it will help you make
more of the experience.
• I would recommend the automation and control class and the management
course. The automation class was very hands on and I really
learned a lot. The management class was interesting and I had a really
nice professor. The project course was easy but it required a lot of
busy work and I did not learn so much. I would definitely not recommend
Thermodynamics unless it is an absolute major requirement, and
even then I would think twice about taking it at UPV. The teacher was
bad, the class only met a few times so it was impossible to use the
class to learn the material, there was NO book, and on top of it all the
final was really hard.
• In general I think the academic quality was slightly below GT standards.
The Spanish courses were better than the English courses, because
the professors do not speak English very well. The professors
were pretty nice and approachable.
• At UPV there is generally no homework or assignments except for the
labs and the labs don’t count towards your final grade, however you
are required to go to them and complete the assignments. The majority
of your grade is weighted on the final exams, which are very specific
and at times do not relate to inherit,
core material of the actual
class.
• Use your free time during the 2-week intensive
language course to go apartment hunting.
• Use http://valencia.loquo.com/ to find apartments
(similar to Craigslist)
• For maximum cultural immersion, make it a
priority to live with Spanish people who will
Spanish. That is the number-one reason that
my Spanish has improved.
• Valencia is pretty cheap compared to Atlanta.
I lived in a great, well-located piso that cost
just under $300 a month per inhabitant with
gastos (utilities) included.
Best areas to live in:
• Mesaella: 15 minute walk to campus, central
to attractions, and near metro stations
• Plaza Honduras: student entertainment hub,
near campus and Tarongers station
• Benimaclet: lots of students and near both red
and blue lines.
Worst areas to live in:
• Malva-Rossa and parts of the city along the
green line (Neptu to Ayora)
• I lived in an apartment with three other foreign
students: a Mexican, an Austrian, and a
French guy. The majority of the time we
spoke Spanish at home.
Classes
Housing
• Use a good-quality hiking backpack (45 Liter capacity to be carried on planes)
• Button-up shirts for males (no T-shirts)
• Take versatile clothing
• Locals do not wear shorts even though it’s hot
• Dark track jacket
• Laptop and flash drive
• A towel (or Packtowl which is very absorbent)
• Just remember that whatever you forget, you can buy when you get there. I did bring toiletries such as a large
bottle of shampoo, and would recommend you do the same. I liked this idea because most hygiene products
are more expensive in Europe and it will take up space in your suitcase on your way over that will be empty
when you return, forcing you to save some space for the things that you will inevitably accumulate while
abroad.
• Spanish people are fun and loud and will give you the best cultural immersion, but even hanging out with people
from non-Ehglish speaking countries usually means you will talk in Spanish, even if they know English
very well.
• Valencia is a great city with lots of wonderful parks to run or ride bikes in, a beautiful center, nice beaches,
and lots of very cultural festivals. Most of my social life involved going out with friends, hanging out in parks
or on the beach, and traveling around.
• I spent most of my time hanging out with other international students. There where only a few other Americans
at my university, while there where several thousand exchange students from all over Europe.
• The students from Valencia are not so interested in getting to know foreign students for two reasons: 1. there
are so many exchange students and 2. many of the students from Valencia speak mostly Valenciano. On the
other hand, students from other parts of Spain feel the same way in Valencia. Therefore I did make several
Spanish friends from Andalucia and Galicia.
• Everyone is very friendly and usually just as scared/nervous/excited as you are, so they are eager to get to
know you. I would recommend going to the intensive language courses in Gandia before UPV starts. It is a
good way to meet people before you arrive, develop language skills, and receive credit. I did not participate in
this, but in many ways I wish that I had.
Definitely go to:
• Plaza Honduras has lots of clubs
• Radio City for its Tuesday night Flamenco shows
• The Toucan (Pollo y Pelleron sp?)
• I had only a checking account/ ATM card. If I did again, I would make sure to have a visa credit card for
emergencies.
Lifestyle
Packing
Finances
• Valencia is beautiful, with huge parks, a beautiful city center,
and a wonderful beach. The weather is nice too, though be forewarned
the Spanish have never heard of a/c or heating. There is
some kind of party or festival almost every weekend. In the
spring, the highlight is the Las Fallas festival. Every neighborhood
builds a paper maché statue as tall as the buildings.
Throughout the month of March, there are daily fireworks, huge
block parties, and big parades. As the grand finale, each
neighborhood burns their statue bonfire style. It is amazing....
Cultural Differences
• Bodega Fila/Labrador on Wednesdays for
tapas
• Friend’s Doner-Kebap has Turkish style
“fast food”
• Café Paris
• Horchata (sweet non-alcoholic drink) &
fartons (sweetened bread sticks) at Horchateria
del Siglo or at Daniel
• Paella—the best is homemade
• Eating out can be expensive; go to one of
the many small café-bars for lunch and
you can get a meal for about 10 euros.
• We cooked all of our own or got together
with friends and cooked.
• Grocery stores (Mercadona is the most
popular) and has prices comparable to the
USA. Dining out can get expensive, but
is in general cheaper to do so in Valencia
than in other European cities.
• There are many options including Toni’s
which offers, pizza, salad, desert & drink
for 3.50 EUR.
Food
• You'll not be able to know the finals schedule
before you get here, so plan on your visa (if you
haven't gotten it yet) for being the maximum
allowable 180 days after your arrival in Spain.
• Visa: Make sure to set up an appointment online
ASAP. If you have trouble talking to the people
at the consulate, just ask for Ricardo and give
them your name and number. He was very helpful
and was able to squeeze me in earlier than I
had.
• Spain is best experienced by car, so try to befriend
someone with a car.
• Spain is very diverse, so it’s worth traveling
within the country.
• The metro is easier to use than buses.
• I traveled to Morocco, Germany, Austria, Czech
Republic, and Italy, as well as, a bit in Spain.
Spain is a great country, go see it first! Then if
you have time and money, there are a lot of
cheap airlines in Europe, and hostels are not too
expensive.
• I would use skyscanner.net for within Europe
travel and STA for going from the US to Europe
• The train and bus system is very good, but cuts
off at 11pm every night.
• There are night buses available, but they do not
come very frequently. The metro goes directly
to and from the Valencia airport (VLC)
• The buses are usually cheaper and faster than
the trains. The bus station is located at the
“Túria” yellow line metro stop.
Transportation & Travel
Please see information of contributing students below. If a blog or website is
listed, feel free to take a look! Also, if an e-mail address is listed, you may
contact that student if you have any questions about their study abroad experience.
ECE, Spring 2007
Jessica Forrest
Civil Engineering, minor in Spanish
Gtg650x@mail.gatech.edu
Participant Profiles
• I had a cell phone, so my
friends and family
mostly called me.
Communication
* These comments do not reflect the views of GT’s Office of International Education. They are based
on students’ individual opinions and are, therefore, not necessarily representative of all student experi

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