Author: Petra Schablas
Universidad de Huleva
Contact: Servicio de Relaciones Internacionales
Contact Person: Juan José Gómez Boullosa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pabellón Juan Agustín de Mora. Campus «El Carmen»
Avda. Fuerzas Armadas, s/n
(University; Image: Petra Schablas)
I got my confirmation to spend my summer semster 2014/15 in Huelva in June 2014. So I got a place in a 20 hours-spanish course already in June and another one was from November to December. I booked my flight from Vienna to Sevilla in October for 140€ and then, after a stressful winter semester at our home university, I started my journey on the 8th of February.
There were three other girls from my home university in Huelva. One of them was my flatmate, so I sharde the flat with her and another student from Slovakia. The flat was quiet nice and we paid each 240€ per month (electricity etc. included) which is an average price in Huelva. We found the flat on Facebook before we left to Spain. (For our landlord´s contact details just contact me!)
When we arrived we had to stay some nights in a hostel until our rooms in this flat were ready for moving into because there lived still the students from the winter semester. But after buying some new bed linen, towels and so on we felt homey quiet soon.
(Our flat; Image: Petra Schablas)
(Orange trees in front of our flat; Image: Petra Schablas)
University started at the 16th of February with the so-called Orientation Week in which we got some instructions and official papers from the University and also the chance to get in touch with other Erasmus students at some ESN-events.
Huelva is a city in southwestern Spain in the autonomous region of Andalusia, and is situated close to the boarder of Portugal. It has a population of 150.000 and a climate whitch is characterized by very mild and wet winters and long warm to hot and dry summers. When we arrived it was still pretty cold- not so much in the outside but very cold in the flats. There are no heating systems in flats in this region of Spain so we had to heat with small radiators which costs a lot of electricity.
Huelva is not very famous for tourists but there are still some nice places.
(Port of Huelva; Image: Petra Schablas)
The closest beach is in a small town called Punta Umbria and is around 25 minutes per bus. It is nice that it´s not that far away but during the summer it is still kind of annoying that you always have to use the very crowded bus. The bus is the only way to go to the beach by public transport, costs 1,55€ and goes every hour. But this "effort" is worth taking it because how often in your lifetime do you have the chance to go every weekend to the beach.
(The beach in Punta Umbria; Image: Petra Schablas)
The university has approximately 10.000 students including 200 Erasmus students every semester. There are three buldings- Technical Studies are located in La Rabida, outside of Huelva, Economic Studies are located in La Merced in the old city center of Huelva and most of the other studies are located in the main campus named El Carmen. I have all my courses in El Carmen.
At the beginning it was not easy to get into all the courses. Due to the economic crisis the University has a huge money problem. There are just a few courses open for Erasmus students and they offered just one of my courses from the Learning Agreement. All the registration process was very chaotic because there were not enough places. I had my registration in the mid of March and we were not able to do anything in and for our courses until the registration because we didn´t get a password for the Moodle course which would have been very essential. The lecturers did not wanted to have us Erasmus students in their courses and we all did not feel very welcome.
Another problem was the language. We were told that all our courses will be in English so it is not completely necessary to speak Spanish. But when we were there some lectures were very upset that almost nobody of the Erasmus people spoke Spanish."This is a huge problem. There are rally not enough places and not enough English courses for all of you if nobody speaks Spanish."
Apart from the teacher practical all the other courses were twice a week for 2 or 2 1/2 hours. So we had every day about 2 hours of univeristy in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.
In the end we were able to enrol in the following courses:
-Didáctica de la lengua extranjera Inglés (6 ECTS): This course is for future primary teacher to learn how to teach english to very young learners. There were 50 Spanish students and 5 Erasmus students. The teacher tried to teach some didactics but most of the time she was just teaching basic English to the students because their English was really content we already learned at home and on the other hand she was not able to ask difficult questions at the final exam because the Spanish students would have had a language problem. We had to do a lot of handycraft homework and I was really amazed how much effort everyone of the spanish students put into!
-Inglés 2 (6 ECTS): This is a course from the langugage department for students who study English language and literature studies. Eventhough the students studied English as their main subject the level of difficulty was also not that high. I had a good feeling through the whole semester and it was easy going but in the end the final test was pretty hard. There was very complex vocabulary and tricky grammar and many people failed.
- Corrientes y Experiencias Renovadoras en Educación Infantil (6 ECTS): This is a course for future kindergarten teacher and is mainly about the history of pedagogy. Officially the course should have been held in English but on the first day when we joined this subject the lector told us that it will be held in Spanish due to English langugage problems. After some controversy and -again- a lot of persuading we made a deal that the teacher talked in Spanish and always made a quick summary of the spoken topics in English. This was good for our Spanish improvement but very exhausting. Especially the team work with the other Spanish students was very difficult. We had to arrange some lessons in a real school and also do some other project work which was a lot of work because they were not even able to speak some simple English phrases and my Spanish was also poor. Thank Google for Google Translate which was our savior. At the end the teacher was suprised that all of us 5 Erasmus students in the course managed to pass all the 5 Exams during the semester, obviously she didn´t expected that.
-Spanish A1 (6 ECTS): This was my favourite course. We had such a nice Spanish women who really cared about us 15 Erasmus students. We did a lot of grammar and vocabulary but it helped us to learn some basic structures of the langugage. I already had 6 years of French in school which really helped me to understand the langugage maybe a bit faster. But at the end of the semester we were all able to understand quite a lot and talk about some daily life routines and situations.
-Teacher practical (6 ECTS): After the problems with all our nonexistend courses we were not really suprised when the secretary told us that it is not possible any longer to do a teacher practical. So we had to care about it on our own and luckily found an employee from the university who has a son in a school where we were able to do the practicum. We arranged with the headmaster to stay in the school of Bellavista for 12 days from the morning until 3 o´ clock in the afternoon. The problem was that, as mentioned, it was not an official course so we had to skip some of our univeristy courses on all of these days. The practical was very interesting because we were able to join classes from the kindergarten until up to 13 year-old children. I teached some English lessons and the rest of the lessons I supported the teacher and the children. We were able to do a lot of cultural work and it was great to see the differnces between the spanish and the austrian school system.
(Classroom; Image: Petra Schablas)
C.E.I.P. El Puntal
Secretaría: +34 959524978
To sum up I have to say that eventhough there have been some issues concerning the university it was a great semester abroad! I really started to love Spain and also the spanish people. Of course you don´t get used to their extraordinary lazy lifestyle but you really have to enjoy the positive aspects about it. I would definitely go again on Eramsus but maybe at his moment not to Huelva. Of course it is a great place but the financial situation is so noticeable at the university and I know Erasmus students which were at other universities where you can "enjoy" the semester more and don´t have to worry so much about the organisation and lectures. Furthermore I would highly recommend to be able to speak Spanish. Not just Level A1, I would say at least B1 to be able to join normal Spanish courses. But I got in touch with so many students from all around Europe and we were able to travel so much (Madrid, Valencia, Portugal, many cities in Andalucia, Marokko) that I don´t regret anything and I honestly can say that the months in Huelva were some months which I will never forget!
(Sagres, Portugal; Image: Petra Schablas)
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