I want to write a short piece about the university where I spent four months in the beautiful town of Córdoba, which is situated in the southern region of Spain known as Andalucía. I am studying journalism so went to Spain to undertake studies in communication but I also was allowed to choose some Business-related subjects. In order to pass the semester you need to have a total of 30 ECTS points and before you go you can choose which subjects you wish to study with each one having a certain number of points. For communication, I chose ‘international communication’, ‘investigative journalism’, ‘visual communication’ and ‘photojournalism’, and in business I chose ‘entrepreneurship’ but also one from international relations called ‘regional studies (Asia) Asian politics and society’. However, upon arrival I changed ‘international communication’ and ‘Asian studies’ to ‘marketing management’ and ‘corporate social responsibility’ due to the fact that the first lecture didn’t excite me enough and also because I heard the subject was too difficult if you couldn’t speak Spanish, respectively. In addition, there was a further option of taking a Spanish language and cultural course at Loyola, which allowed you to gain about 4 extra ECTS points. This is the beauty of Erasmus+ – it’s designed to help you reach your goals and is flexible.
Erasmus+ is a program funded by the European Union and I went with a 450 euro allowance for every month. This would cover my accommodation costs as well as pay for some but not all my expenses while staying there. I worked out that I spent about 700 euros each month so had to pay from my own pocket but with some budgeting this total could be reduced, as most of my expenditures were on trips and food. Accommodation was privately found by myself through a company which catered specially for students called Interasmundo and I paid 230 euros plus bills monthly for my quiet room with my double-sized bed. It was worth paying a bit more for that extra comfort, in my opinion. Córdoba has the same size population as Toruń and the costs of living are similarly quite cheap. Studying in Málaga, Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia would be more costly, and I enjoyed the fact that Córdoba wasn’t so small but also that it wasn’t as big as a huge city so you could walk everywhere within 30 minutes.
In Córdoba there are two universities – UCO and Loyola. There is a bigger Loyola campus in Seville, the capital of the Andalucía region 40 minutes away, but Loyola universities are found around the world with the main one being located in Chicago, USA. These universities are known for their high standard of learning and are founded by the Jesuits and therefore are a private institution.
The business subjects I had chosen were very interesting teaching us about how to create a start-up business (entrepreneurship), how to promote a new or existing product in a marketing campaign (marketing management) but also how ethics should play a part within each firm (corporate social responsibility). These subjects were all in English and as I am a native English speaker so it was easy to engage and understand what was being taught.
On the other hand, the communication subjects involved learning about how to carry out an investigation to get some “dirt” on a specific issue using various sources (investigative journalism), how to use a camera and take photos for use in the media (photojournalism) and how images have evolved and are now used by companies in the public sphere in terms of logos, advertising or creating a brand (visual communication). For photojournalism I decided to buy my first very own semi-professional camera, a Canon SLR, to complete the module. Unfortunately, these subjects were all in Spanish so it was impossible with my basic language skills to make sense of much, and I must say, this caused me some stress throughout my entire time abroad.
The classes amounted to 20 hours each week but required you to do a lot of work at home to complete the many projects and prepare for regular mini-exams. Overall, this tested your organizational skills as well as your ability to work within a team. There was free time to enjoy Córdoba afterwards with the weekend always being free and lectures only taking places during four days in the week.
The facilities in the university were very good and I would make a 20 minute walk through green parks to get to the campus. Once there, I could go to the study room or, instead try the cafeteria which was open each day until 9pm and which served a good lunch menu all the while using the free Wi-Fi facility. There was a computer room aswell but most students had laptops. The entire system of lecture times, exams marks, emails and resources from classes was all managed online from the university’s website and allowed instant access to information and subject materials. It was a bit difficult to get used to it at first but overall people helped you a lot if you had any problems.
For those who were religious, there was a small shrine within the main building where morning masses were held each week and also there was a small Christian department which would organise various activities. I joined in one of these – the Caminata Ignaciana, a walk through the nearby Trassierra mountains led by a Jesuit priest which ended with some group games and the Holy Mass as the sun went down. This was one of my most memorable days with the university and I will be participating in more such events in the future!
All in all, I would certainly recommend going to Loyola university in Córdoba as it is a charming city with a very historic centre which is close to many big towns in Spain, near the ocean (only a 2 hours bus-ride) and not so far from Portugal. However, I would not recommend it to anyone who cannot speak Spanish at at least B1 level as I found it very frustrating having to listen to a foreign language in the communication classes and subsequently found it very hard to motivate myself to do the work in these subjects. If you can’t speak Español but do choose to go, make sure all your subjects are in English as there is more support for people in this situation.