- Evaluation of the stay abroad in academic / cultural / social terms
To be honest, I don’t think I learned as much academically as I probably would have in Austria. However, the stay abroad in Huelva made it possible for me to get to know Andalusian culture and new traditions. Besides that, I gained insights into the lifestyles and cultures of countries around the world by getting to know a wide variety of people from different countries. In addition, I learned to be even more independent, to take care of bureaucratic procedures myself and to organize myself.
- Have you gained learning experiences that you would not have gained without a stay abroad?
I definitely gained valuable life experiences during my stay abroad. Above all, I grew as a person, became more self-confident and learned to keep calm and act in difficult situations. I think these are skills that I can undoubtedly use in my life, but also in my teaching job.
- Do you think that the stay abroad will be beneficial for your future work (as a teacher)?
To be honest, I didn’t really have learned many academic aspects at the university for my future work as a teacher. However, I gained other important experiences and skills. Especially when it comes to teaching a foreign language, for example German as a second language. My stay abroad allowed me to experience what it is like when the language of instruction is not one’s first language and what challenges that brings. I think I now have even more understanding and sensitivity for children who do not have German as their first language.
- Has this stay abroad influenced or changed your personality?
The stay abroad has certainly contributed to my personal development. Getting to know so many nice people from different countries and continents made me realize that we are all young people with similar values, world views and dreams. And this even though we grew up very differently in some cases and had different life experiences. All in all, it shows we are all different, but still the same.
When I have started my studies to become a primary teacher, I already knew that I wanted to go on Erasmus one day. From my point of view, it is a great opportunity to explore a different country, to get to know a new culture and to meet new people from all over the world. Since last semester was my last winter semester in my bachelor’s degree, I started to inform myself about Erasmus possibilities and applied for Erasmus in Huelva, Spain. You have never heard about Huelva? No worries, before informing myself about possible cities in Spain, I didn’t know the coastal city in the south of Spain either.
Huelva is the capital of the province of Huelva in southwest Andalusia, with 143,663 inhabitants (2019). Unlike the other coastal cities of Andalusia, the city is not that popular and has hardly any tourism. Although I didn’t really know what to expect and think about Huelva, I chose this city to spend my Erasmus there. The reasons for my decision have been, firstly, the location of the city. For me, it was always clear that I wanted to spend my Erasmus in Spain because of the language. Because in Barcelona and other parts of Spain the people speak another language, for me, it was important to go to a place, where the people speak Castellano, the ‘real’ Spanish. The people of Andalusia speak the ‘real’ Spanish, but they have a strong dialect that is difficult to understand, even if you already know the language. At first glance, this can be seen as a disadvantage, but on the other hand, it trains your listening skills and makes it easier to understand the language in other parts of Spain or South America. Furthermore, Huelva is located near to Portugal, what it makes it easy to travel there, and the city is close to the beach.
Another reason for going to Huelva was the size of the city. You can’t expect the big city life in the Andalusian city, however for spending your Erasmus there, the city offers everything you need. A big advantage of the small size is that it is easy to connect with new people and that you can reach everything by food or by bike. Therefore, I would strongly recommend buying a bike on https://www.wallapop.com/, a web page like “eBay” or “willhaben”.
I started with the application in January and left for Spain at the end of August. For the application you require an account on Mobility online, a web page where you can find all the steps, which are necessary before you go abroad, during and after your stay in the Erasmus country.
Before you go on Erasmus, it is necessary that you already choose some courses you will attend at your host university instead of the courses at your home university. It is essential that the amount of the credit points (ECTs) is the same. Moreover, the course content of the courses at the host university must not be completely the same as the one at your home university (bachelor’s degree). However, the course contents of home and host university should be similar. The Learning agreement must be signed by yourself, the coordinator of your home and your host university. However, in my case, it was still possible to take some changes after my arrival in Huelva.
Before you go
After your application for your stay abroad, there is not so much left to do. With the e-card, you are insured in all EU countries. Make sure if you want some extra security, for example if you need a fast flight back home because of illness. Additionally, I would recommend searching for accommodations in advance.
I really would recommend searching for accommodation in advance because for many students it was really difficult to find a proper and well-located flat after their arrival. There are some pages you can search for shared flats. For example:
I really would recommend getting in contact with “Housing Huelva” because they can help you with your search for shared flats.
There are different locations of the university of Huelva. I was at the main campus, “El Carmen”. There are several cafeterias, where you can meet after and before your lessons with your friend for having dinner or a coffee. Moreover, there are different sports offers, which you can join for a good price. For example, during my stay in Huelva I attended a flamenco dance course and I tried to play padel in a padel course. I would recommend asking the International Office if they can give you some advice.
It is necessary to organize the school practice on your own. In my experience, it was really difficult to find a school, where I could do my practice. After trying to get in touch with some schools unsuccessfully, I asked a teacher of mine at the university. He helped me to get in touch with the Montessori school of Huelva. Therefore, I would recommend you to ask professors at the university if they can help you.
All in all, the school practice was interesting because I could gain insight into a different school system. Furthermore, the teachers and students have been really kind and interested. I taught a few lessons (English or Spanish). However, I usually observed and supported the teacher.
The City and Free Time
As I have already mentioned, the city isn’t that big, however the offer of Erasmus event is big. There exist some Erasmus organizations, which are planning and organizing nice events for Erasmus students. You can search on Instagram or Facebook for the organizations. (@intexpierencehuelva, @erasmuslifehuelva, @go_erasmus_uhu).
Furthermore, there is a big shopping center next to the university (Holea), where you can find different shops and possibilities for having food or coffee. Aqualon is another shopping center where you can find many bars, clubs and other possibilities for free time activities.
If you want to enjoy the sun in a park, I can recommend spending your time in the “Parque Moret”. You can go there for a walk, play some games with friends or have a barbecue. There are some spots where you can have a barbecue.
Furthermore, you should take the opportunity to travel around and to discover the region of Huelva (Aracena, Nationalpark Doñana, playa de Punta Umbría, playa Mazagón, Palos de la Frontera) and, in general, Andalusia. There are many nice cities in the south of Spain, which are worth it to go there. Moreover, a big advantage of Huelva is the proximity to Portugal. Take the chance and travel around the country next to Spain, especially the Algarve, Lisbon and the “Fishermans Trail” are gorgeous places.
Text & Picture by Steinmayr Johanna