Brazil (Federal University of Juiz de Fora) 2009 – Spain – Salamanca – Henrique Resende Siqueira

University life is always an enriching experience, in both academic and personal aspects. Extending this experience to a truly universalized, international university that has existed for more than 500 years, is an extraordinary possibility!

In Salamanca, the environment is perfect for studying, both due to the human quality of the professionals who work there and to the university’s infrastructure. The professors are all very well trained, and most of the time they dedicate themselves exclusively to the institution. The methodology of the classes, their program, the schedules for tests and the days that the professor is available in his office to help the students are already predefined in the Department’s Academic Guide. In addition to this, the teaching system seems more interesting.  The professors’ efforts to ask for short, but dynamic papers, which were discussed in the many practical classes, were noticeable. In terms of infrastructure, we had at our disposal enormous libraries with books that were always up-to-date and in sufficient numbers, a site with all the information about the university, support services for students, numerous academic programs, and a lot more.

My experience was very useful. I tried to choose courses that were more general and less linked to Spanish Law, such as those related to the international area. The approach used in the courses was complete and satisfactory. However, not all is perfect. Here too we are bound to find negligent, less dedicated professors, which do not give good classes. So it’s worth it to talk to other students about the professors, to see which one is best. Normally, the same course is given by more than one professor, and the official one is not always the best.

In relation to learning Spanish, we found a school with a very good cost/benefit relationship – it’s the Escola Oficial de Idiomas. Unfortunately, we can’t use the semesters we studied at the UFJF language centre to skip levels here – it would be wonderful if we could have both institutions recognize the studies done at the other. It’s indispensable to come up with a certain knowledge of the Spanish language, even though Portuguese and Spanish are similar, in practice it is much more difficult than we imagine.

Salamanca is an old city of a little more than 150 thousand inhabitants, and it is two and a half hours away from the capital of Spain, Madrid. There is an incredible number of foreign students here, from all over the world, but mainly Brazilians and Germans. The diversity of nationalities is excellent to put us in contact with different cultures, but, on the other hand, it keeps us at a certain distance from the Spanish students, who are already used to a volume of unidentified foreign students in their classrooms.

Well, in the end, the experience is a positive one and “vale la Pena”!