La Universidad de Cadiz
Student Experience - Spain
Exchange Student, Danielle Dupart
University of Cadiz, Spain – Spring 2008
“English is not spoken at all by the locals, it is very rare. Spanish language classes, are interacting and help you with your Spanish skills.”
In order to obtain a VISA, I needed to apply in person at the Spanish Embassy in San Francisco 90-60 days before departing to Spain. There were a lot of specific documents needed like the actual letter from Cadiz saying that I was going to be attending the University there, and for how long. I needed to have proof of insurance while in Spain, my plane tickets with return to the US, applications from the Spanish Embassy, passport pictures, $100 cash, an envelope with a stamp on it for them to mail me my visa (an express envelope I believe) and a few other things. The actual time at the embassy only took about an hour, but I did have all of my papers in order and the time that it took to make sure that I had everything I needed was a lot. There was no formal interview just a couple minor questions about what I was doing there, etc. My visa was good for multiple entries but you have to make sure that you check that box that says “multiple entries.” The visa process was a little stressful but that is because you have to have everything that the embassy wants and working with the school in Spain was a bit challenging in getting some of these things.
Prior to departure, Cadiz sent me information about choosing to stay in dorms, with a host family or finding your own place to live. They gave the websites with the information about the dorms but when I requested more information and application for the dorms they never got back to me. Then I asked for information about the rental (they had a list available), the list wasn’t updated and there were rental units from a couple years ago. I didn’t have a place to live until I got there, so I just stayed in a hostel for about a week, and finally found something. There was absolutely no help from the University regarding this matter.
I looked up all of my travel plans via the internet. I first flew to Wisconsin since it was Christmas time and then flew from Chicago to Barcelona roundtrip for $600. I did need to buy a ticket though from Barcelona to Jerez (the closest airport to Cadiz) because Barcelona is quite far from Jerez. I used www.kayak.com because it searches all of the other websites, and give you a list of different options and prices, once you find one you like it brings you to the website that had the offer (i.e. priceline.com, orbitz.com, etc.). There were no available arrangements with the university to pick me up, I was on my own and decided to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel. The university didn’t help with any of this and no advice was given either.
I did select classes prior to arrival, but you are able to change them if the schedule didn’t work out too well or you didn’t like them. The first couple weeks are mostly for trying out classes. The classes are very few for the ones that you can actually take so it is hard to look for them prior. The best way to do it is to pick classes that you may be interested in and then when you arrive talk with other international students to see what they are taking. A lot of the classes that they offer in the semester are actually year round classes and plus they don’t have a big list of classes so it is a bit difficult. I didn’t need to buy textbooks, but some professors want you to buy some of the copies of the books or parts of the books, which were really cheap. The Spanish classes provided you with textbooks. You did need to pay for the Spanish classes, which should not be the case. For the intensive Spanish class I paid about $200 and for the regular Spanish class I paid about $450. Other exchange students from the US did not have to pay extra for these classes. For books though I only paid maybe $50 total.
Most of the classes, apart from the Spanish classes, are all lectures where the teacher is only talking to you and you listen and take a lot of notes. The classes aren’t extremely interesting because they are more basic classes, but are harder because they are completely in Spanish so they challenge you that way. Take the Spanish language classes, they are interacting and help you with your Spanish skills.
I rented a 2 bedroom apartment with another HPU exchange student, Kaitlynn, in the new part of Cadiz, a little farther away from school. You can take the buses, and it only takes about 20 minutes with the bus to get to the University. We found the apartment through some American girls that we met when we first got here and their friend was looking for someone to sublet the apartment. We were very fortunate because we arrived in Cadiz during a major festival, and it was hard and almost impossible to find anything available, the school never told us about the festival and that it would make things difficult for us if we came during this time, something that would of have been extremely helpful. We pay $700 a month and about $60 every other month for electricity (together). Everything that is here is, for the most part, furnished with basics. You do need to light a match and turn on gas to have any hot water which was very interesting when we first got here.
I got a Spanish cell phone and it is extremely expensive to even call someone in Spain with so I barely use it, only for texting mostly since it is much cheaper. For calling the US I use a phone card but still it is pretty expensive. The procedure to get a cell phone is very simple, you just compare all of the companies they have here and then you get a pay as you go phone. The Euro and the exchange rate increased a lot while I was there. It started at about $1.45 to 1 euro and then $1.63 to 1 euro. On average an exchange student will spend about 500 euro per month, but that is being conservative and doesn’t include if you are traveling to nearby cities or other countries, eating out, shopping, etc.
I didn’t have to use the medical facilities during my stay, but I heard that they do not have the best medical facilities. If you are sick, you can usually go to the pharmacy and explain what you are sick with and they usually give you medicine right there without seeing a doctor, but if it is more severe then you have to go to the doctor. Also on campus, there is a gym, but you have to pay for it. It’s a one time fee of 15 euro and if you want to do any courses like yoga or Pilates then it costs more per month. The gyms are spread throughout the old and new part of the campus.
The Spanish dialect spoken here is very difficult to understand and they have an extremely hard accent and also speak pretty much a different Spanish then I have been learning this whole time. In fact, other Spaniards from other parts of Spain have a hard time understanding the people from this area. The most difficult thing during my stay for me was the language. Even though I have been speaking Spanish for some time it was very difficult to understand the locals.
The places you must see and things you must do are Cadiz Carnival, Granada, Barcelona, Morocco (it is so close and cheap), travel throughout Europe (this is also pretty cheap and everything is very close). The people that you meet and the places that I have been too around Europe and Morocco…these have truly made everything amazing.