Zaragoza Student Experience Report by Kashish Shah & Koen Vanacker

by Kashish Shah, India & Koen Vanacker, Belgium (EUREC 2017/18) - Grid Integration | 02/18-05/18

The support from our core university was vital that made transition simple. The process started early December itself with reminders from Uni- Oldenburg ISO and EUREC program organizer, document checklist required by Zaragoza university with respective submission deadlines were communicated clearly. Consequently, we completed the pre-requisites on time and were well prepared to start the new semester in Spain. The procedure involved registering in an online portal and uploading the necessary documents.
Travel and Living
Fortunately, we had a respite of a week between the 2 semesters, which gave us ample time to travel safely and get settled. Upon arrival, unlike our host university there were no arrangements of being received by previous students or Erasmus “buddy’s”. Therefore, as a non-Spanish speaker making way to home was bit arduous. Finding accommodation in Zaragoza was difficult because of sparse and late communication by the domiciles. Some response were really errand, however due to early bird practices (thanks to our host university again) we’re managed to find a place before arrival. Student accommodation of Universidad de Zaragoza are also available but they’re very expensive compared to the private housing. We stayed in private owned rooms in shared apartments.
Our specialization in Spain started on second week of February and within 10 days of arrival we had our first exam. A real bumper! The course structure for Grid Integration at university is module wise i.e. one module at a time and concluded by 2 exams (Presentation and written), and then onto the next. There were total 6 modules over the course of 5 months. We found this structure very flexible as it keeps less pressure. Poor communication from professors and staff was one of the major concerns, most of the instances objectives and structure of course was ambiguous. The material provided needs major improvement in terms of English. No feedbacks on our individual performances were given which could help us to rectify and improve. Marking structure was also errand. The specialization was for one of the authors of this document perceived as too deep for someone without earlier electrical engineering background and also perceived even the introduction module as in depth.
Lifestyle & Leisure
This surely a thing to be envied of – Spanish culture and lifestyle. Zaragoza is small town as compared to Madrid or Barcelona but its aura keeps you jovial. As the summer progress, the shades of city and people become more vibrant and crazier. The geographical location of city is also ideal – connecting all major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao & Andalusia at equidistant. Travelling is must when you’re in Spain and the semester curriculum allows you to do so. We also enjoyed sports and other co-curricular activities, Erasmus parties and explored typical food cuisines. The evenings and weekends make up for all the hard work during the week as the Spaniards surely know how to enjoy life.

In conclusion, it was a bittersweet experience. The university requires a tremendous effort to improve its academics when it compares to international standard and support for non- Spanish speaking students, or better have some experience already with Spanglish. Our recommendation for future students is that you should choose this specialization and university only if you’re passionate and clear of your choice of grid sector, as university is still in amateur stages or even un-prepared to deliver the excellence in par with your expectations, so discretion is must. Else, this semester in Spain will surely give you beautiful memories, experiences and leave you with smile that will simmer on even after the last day.

(Changed: 2020-01-23)