Well folks, that’s a wrap. (On that semester, not really on anything else. I will be back next semester…and later with another blog).
An interesting fact about the Spanish education system is that the exams for the fall semester for Spanish, year-long, and Erasmus students take place in January… yes, after the holidays… after you spent a month/a few weeks off from school. I think its ridiculous, but then again… I also have never had the desire to memorize things and study for a month (or at all). A lot of Spanish students are okay with this system as it gives them time during the vacation to spend 10 hours of the day studying, memorizing, torturing themselves, or whatever, but I think it is weird and not fun. I don’t want to be worrying about classes and exams during Christmas break. Because I am year-long student technically should have to take the exams in January but I asked nicely and all my teachers let me take them in December, so I am truly all all finished. (Actually I just just finished everything because I had two assignments due after my exams were all finished… the last one was submitted at 11:50pm on December 22, five minutes before it was due.)
I know that I haven’t talked about my classes on this blog very specifically, but rest assured that I did [most of] the work that was assigned, and I received grades for some things, and I took some tests. Anything past that I cannot guarantee, yet. Hopefully by the end of January I will get some exam grades back and the final grades for the majority of my classes so that I can know how the semester truly went. Overall, I feel confident that I passed my classes. So that’s good.
I don’t remember if I mentioned the names of my classes in an earlier blog post, but for anyone who would like a recommendation for classes at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, this is a paragraph for you. This semester I took four classes at the university and one online class for GPA purposes (I’ll explain later). The classes that I took were all related to International Relations/Studies, to Europe and to Peace, Conflict, and Diplomacy, which is a concentration that you can choose at UNM. The classes were “Security, Peace, and Conflict Resolution,” “Human Rights,” “Economics of European Integration,” and “History of Spain in the 20th century.” I would recommend all of these classes as very interesting and enjoyable* classes (*unless you don’t like sitting in a history lecture in Spanish for 3 hours a week then don’t take the history class (there is an English section of the class though)) (*and if you don’t know any economics (like me), then the economics class could be difficult (it was difficult, but doable and interesting)). Other than those exceptions above, the classes were all good, albeit in some ways disorganized, which was a sentiment shared by almost all of the international students that I met, but we have since chalked it up to the system being, well… Spanish. Es lo que hay. (You have to come to Spain to figure out what I mean.)
As for those of you that we interested in the GPA help, well that’s a bit more simple, and pretty well known amongst exchange students, I think. The thing to note is that with most courses that you take abroad in other countries with other grading systems and languages, the grades that you received abroad come back to UNM as a pass-fail grade (credit or no credit). So, if you take 15 credit hours that would still be 5 classes abroad, and those 5 grades would all transfer back as CR or C, which as you may recall/know, pass-fail grades do not affect your GPA, so basically your GPA doesn’t change. But, if you take an online class through UNM, which you can take from anywhere in the world, then that class is the same for all online students and separate from your study abroad and so you will receive a normal letter grade for that class, which means that if you take an easy or relatively less stressful online class while you are abroad then the grade you earn for that class will be the only letter grade on your transcript, which can be really helpful if you earn a good grade in the class. Just a little tip. Also it could potentially lighten up your workload and the amount of hours that you have to be in class abroad which could allow for more flexibility, more trips, more of whatever you want to do apart from studying. (I took the BIOL 110 online course, it was very interesting and well put together.)
In the end, I feel good about how the semester went and besides celebrating the end of the semester, I also have to be sad because a lot of the friends that I made this semester are heading back to their respective countries and universities. Sad that with the end of the semester there has to come a parting of ways, but hopefully, it won’t be the last time I see every body who is leaving because that would truly be a tragedy. It was a good one guys, catch you around town / the globe.