First of all, my conclusion: I had a great time in Barcelona and can really recommend the city if you are looking for a typical Erasmus semester. The weather was perfect, you have the beach, a great city, culture and nightlife without end. All in all a very beautiful, European, international city.
But if you really want to learn Spanish, want to try something completely different or want to get away from Germany, I would recommend South America. But if you just want to spend a great time abroad and want to make the city and the beach unsafe with 1000 other Erasmus students and if you feel safer with European culture, German friends and visits from home, I can really recommend Barcelona!
I studied the 5th semester of my psychology degree in the winter semester 2012/13 as part of the Study Abroad Program in Regular Studies at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona.
First of all: the planning and application went really well. At this point, first of all, a big thank you!
I didn’t have an apartment before. In Barcelona, however, I quickly found a room through Loquo after a week. It is best to call directly for all current offers and go there. There are also many rooms in Barcelona via wg-searched, but you should only search above if you only want to live with Germans. I only know a few who have already found something from home and most of them have not stayed there. So better just fly over there and look in Barcelona.
You don’t have to worry about university either. The lectures usually only start two weeks after the official start date and the courses can usually be changed without any problems after the first lectures.
The university is not in Barcelona itself but in Bellaterra. With the S-Bahn the journey takes about 40 minutes from plaza cataluña. It is therefore advisable not to live too far from one of the stops on 55 or 2. However, the courses in the pre-established program are offered on a separate campus in the city center.
At the university I took the courses “Introducción al Tratamiento Psicológico”, “Sport Psychology”, “Planificación y Gestión de Recursos Humanos” and “Introducción a la Economia”.
Each course consisted of a weekly lecture plus a seminar that took place every 2 weeks. While the seminars are partly compulsory, there is no compulsory attendance at the lectures.
The psychology courses were third and fourth year courses for Spanish students while the economics course was a course for freshmen. In the psychological courses, the number of 20-30 students was relatively small and the support was very intensive. Overall, the relationship between students and professors is very relaxed and contact by email also worked very well. Compared to my previous courses in Germany, the courses in Barcelona were much more practice-oriented. On the other hand, the requirements and the level of teaching were lower than in Germany. I already knew a lot of the content from my first semesters in Germany, but the practical application enabled me to deepen my knowledge.
The official and colloquial language in Barcelona and at the university is Catalan. This means that, for example, all instructions, announcements, signs and course descriptions are in Catalan. The courses are also usually held in Catalan. Sometimes there are also courses in Spanish. Since this is often not or incorrectly stated in the course description, it is advisable to write to the respective professors beforehand by email. The professors often switch to Spanish during the lesson when they notice that exchange students are present. An English course was also offered this semester with the Sport Psychology course.
Spanish courses are offered at the university, but unlike Catalan courses, they are chargeable. Due to the additional large distance to the city center, most students take a language course at a language school in the city center instead.
In everyday life I was unfortunately less able to use my Spanish. Barcelona is very touristy and most of the Spanish students live outside of it. With a good 1000 Erasmus students, the colloquial language remained mostly English. So if you have to learn Spanish as your primary goal, you should consider whether another city in Spain or South America would not be better or really hang out in Barcelona, visit a language school and ideally live with Spaniards.
The cost of living in Barcelona is slightly higher than in Germany. For a room you should expect around € 350-400 per month. The food prices are comparable to the German ones, but partying is a bit more expensive. Drinks in the clubs cost € 5-15. Admission up to € 15, depending on the time. However, with the lists from Shaz or I-love-Barcelona you also get free entry in many clubs.
In addition to the typical attractions, a trip to Montserrat and weekend trips to the Pyrenees or the Costa Brava are recommended. Also the Cosmo Caixa and Macba museums.