My semester abroad in València: The best half year of my life
I spent my winter semester 2022 in València a, Spain. In the following lines, I would like to report on
my experiences and impressions that I gathered during the seven months I lived there.
My host university was the Universidad Católica de Valencia “San Vicente Mártir”. This is a private
university with several faculties located inside and outside the city centre. My faculty (for primary
school teaching) was in Burjassot – Godella, which was 30 minutes with the metro from the city
centre. My courses were both at the faculty in Burjassot-Godella and at faculties in the city centre.
For this reason, I would recommend looking for a flat near the city centre, because from there
Burjassot-Godella is also well connected by public transport and you can also enjoy the benefits of
city life. The communication with the host university was very good. I received a lot of support with
questions and I always knew who to contact was. I also liked the fact that the host university offered
various sports courses and that there was also the opportunity of taking Spanish courses at different
I did my internship at the Colegio San Juan Bosco – Salesianos Valencia. The whole internship was
organised by my university. So they looked for the school for me and made the contact. At the school,
I mainly attended English classes. I gave a few lessons about my life and life in Austria and the
students found the exchange very exciting. For example, they were shocked at how early people in
Austria have lunch and dinner and found it exciting that there is a “summit book” on the peaks where
everyone writes their name who has climbed the mountain.
There were also some differences compared to schools in Austria:
What immediately caught my eye was that the schools in Spain are much better equipped with
electrical equipment. There is a smartboard in every class, which is also frequently used, and several
tablets. In Austria, it is very rare for a class to have a smartboard and I have never been to a school
where the students had tablets at their disposal. Because of this, the lessons also look very different.
The students in Spain do a lot of maths on the tablets and give their presentations using Power
Points. Another big difference is that in the Spanish school, teaching was almost exclusively frontal. I
was almost completely unfamiliar with that from the Austrian school system. In Austria, we work a lot
with the cooperative form of teaching. The pupils also get weekly plans or daily plans and work on
them independently. On the other hand, I learned from the Spanish school that the children and the
teachers have a very good relationship. The teachers hug the children and talk to them a lot during
the breaks. Likewise, they have a friendly relationship with them and are not above playing games
with the children during recess. In my opinion, this relationship on an equal footing is very important.
I want to take a lot from that. In Austria the relationship is much more distant and the teachers
sometimes put themselves on a level above the students.
I did exactly as other students recommended in other reports and stayed in a hostel (River Hostel –
best hostel in the world) at the beginning and then looked for flats from there. After a long search, I
found a flat in Ruzafa via Idealista (an app for finding a flat) that really appealed to me. Basically, I
recommend always writing to the landlady directly in Spanish, because some landlords don’t know
English. For me, Ruzafa was the perfect solution because the faculties were close to the city centre
and because of that also close to Ruzafa or in Burjassot-Godella and Ruzafa is a very safe, quiet and
hip neighbourhood. My flat had heating, which was very pleasant in winter.
Valencia is a very liveable city because of the large Turia Park, which runs through the city and is one
of the largest parks in Europe, the beautiful modern architecture, the many leisure facilities and
because of the proximity to the beach. It is also easy to reach the nearby mountains by train and
there are several opportunities for sports climbing in the Valencia region (Chulilla, Calpe, …).
Even though I didn’t learn as much at university as I did in Austria, I improved a lot in English, Spanish
and High German. Likewise, I am now even more interested in other cultures and other countries. My
friends now come from different countries in Europe and when I hear something about these
countries I immediately want to know everything because I now know someone who is from there.
My self-confidence has also grown a lot, because I have managed to build a life in a foreign city
without having known anyone there before. I also approach other people more openly and make
much more small talk in everyday life because the Spanish have taught me that it’s nice to talk to
strangers. Especially as a teacher, it is very important to live abroad once. Especially because you
experience how exhausting it is when you can’t have all the conversations in your mother tongue, and
as a teacher you can put yourself in the shoes of the DAZ children better and are possibly also much
more interested in their culture.
My personality has changed in the sense that I am no longer easily stressed or upset. I also have a
much more positive attitude and know how important it is for me to have contact with people and
generally enjoy life to the fullest. I have become much more active and have gone on weekend
outings or organised cooking evenings during the week. I definitely want to keep doing this.
Text: Clara Raxenhofer