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4 MONTHS ABROAD – with COVID

Barcelona (Foto Katharina Harrer)

My stay in Barcelona should have been 4 months originally. Due to the COVID situation the stay was shortened to 6 weeks. The rest of the “Erasmus time” I spent in my hometown with online courses and assignments. Writing these lines is almost painful. Despite the unpredictable events I can look back happily and gratefully on the past months and would not trade this experience for anything in the world.

THE UNIVERSITY

I had the chance to study for 3 weeks at the UAB (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona) in Bellaterra. The university area is so big that you can chose between 3 bus lines that go around this area only. There are numerous coffees, canteens, and shops of all kinds. Even a hairdresser, a bookstore and a cinema can be found on the campus. Unfortunately, I was sick at the beginning of the welcome week and therefore missed the campus orientation tour. Because of that I had to find the way to the right building on my first day by myself. Despite the use of several navigaions apps on my phone and the help from different people I met, it took me an hour to find the building and then the right room. But as soon as I had the time to explore and find my way around, I realized how great this campus was. It was an amazing experience; I am disappointed that I only had 3 weeks to enjoy this campus but so grateful that I had the chance to experience it in the first place.

SCHOOL PRACTICE

after the 3 weeks on campus we had the opportunity to do a two-week internship at a primary school. This experience was amazing. The way the teachers interacted with each other and the pupils was something I could not observe anywhere else yet. The interaction was respectful, appreciative, and tolerant almost as if everyone was part of one big family. These are things that I only know from theory because in my opinion it is not (yet) lived and implemented in this form in Austria. In my opinion, this behavior and attitude also had positive effects on both the teaching and the behavior of the children. The motivation, the commitment and the efforts of the teachers could not be overlooked. I loved it there.

THE CITY AND MY ACCOMMODATION

it was difficult to find an accommodation that met my requirements (which I reduced to the minimum). In the end I found a room in a shared flat with 3 French girls. The apartment was in the district of El Clot near the Torre Glòries. With the bike it took me about 10 minutes to get to the beach. It took me an hour each way to get to the UAB by public transport. But it was worth it.  The UAB and the campus were great, but the center in Barcelona was breathtaking. If I had to choose one more time, I would make the same choice again.

ALL IN ALL

Although I never expected that something like COVID would happen and have such an impact on my stay, not to say ruin it, I am glad to have had this experience. I fell in love with the city, the flair and the culture and got the chance to meet great people, with whom I hope to stay in touch (not to mention the incredibly good food).  I learned a lot academically speaking but also about myself that I probably would not have learned if I would have stayed at home. It is hard to say if my personality has changed but I am sure that I gained a lot of new knowledge about myself and new competences. I had the chance to experience so much and I am sure that I will be able to use a lot in my future practice once I am a teacher. The time in Barcelona was short but wonderful and I would choose to do it again anytime.

Author: Katharina Harrer

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