Arianne's year abroad experience

09 January 2023

BSc International Management student Arianne, shares her experience of studying abroad in Madrid.

The first 2 weeks of studying abroad were the most challenging. I was starting fresh again, I came alone to a country I had never been to after being locked at home for 1.5 years. I had been brushing up on my Spanish for the months leading up to the big move however the moment I arrived in Madrid my mind went blank and even my taxi driver questioned why I decided to come to a country where I couldn’t speak the language! The speed at which they spoke, the felt intense. Although, I believe that I adapted very quickly to these obstacles. After I reached the 1-month benchmark, I could finally understand the speed, and I met a great group of friends from all over the world.

Consider your accommodation

Looking back, where I lived played an essential factor in me thoroughly enjoying myself. I stayed in student accommodation, and they provided meals, cleaning, laundry, and excellent facilities. Other people from Warwick that went to Madrid stayed in the city centre, but I lived closer to IE Business School. At first, I contemplated this decision because I felt like the “odd one out”. But I came to terms with it because I had classes every day, and my commutes were shorter, which was a bonus! And regardless, I was in Madrid to meet different people, and I could go to the city centre whenever I wanted.

Everything at my accommodation was provided, and I was able to focus on my studies, friends and exploring. The friends that I made were fantastic. I remember during first year at Warwick, I felt as if I did not have that genuine connection with many people. I didn’t instantly click with anyone, and when I had a chat with my older brother, he said that it's normal and that I’d meet these people later in my university life, and that is precisely what happened! I met the most incredible group of people that had a similar outlook to me. They loved going on adventures and exploring but appreciated a good night out. They respect people’s alone time and love having meaningful conversations. This was so important to me. So the lesson in that is don’t rush! You’ll eventually meet people you click with!

Explore and make the most of your surroundings

In terms of memorable moments, I enjoyed that I was in my very first vertical campus. It was on the opposite end of the spectrum to Warwick because, instead of walking from class to class, I just took the elevator. Every 2 weeks or so, my friends would decide to take a day trip to a neighbouring city or take a weekend at one of the best destinations in Spain. It was amazing to explore and appreciate the beauties of life and different cultures. I also experienced different cultures and festivals.

As mentioned previously, my friends were from all over the world, and therefore, we celebrated holidays that were unique to them and the ones unique to Spain. I loved the freedom and independence I had in a completely different environment. It was a clean slate and felt somewhat magical. Lastly, I loved how comfortable it was for me to spend time alone. I would go on walks alone, picnics by myself, and go to cafes, restaurants, and shops alone. Honestly, it was such a vibe. I developed a mindset where if I wanted to do or see something, I didn’t need to wait on other people to come along with me.  When I reached that realisation, I felt empowered and confident in my own space.

Studying at IE Business School

My experience studying at IE Business School was very polarised compared to what I am currently used to at the University of Warwick. For starters, the previously mentioned ‘vertical campus’ in “Cuatro Torres” (the financial district in Madrid)! It was so cool. Instead of walking from one end of the campus to the other for classes, I would take the elevator (or the stairs) up and down the building. Since I was the first cohort to use the building, the area surrounding the campus seemed bare. So after classes, I would go straight home or meet my friends in the city.  However, my friends have told me that IE now has a new strip of restaurants and cafes on the ground floor! So that’s very exciting.

I also enjoyed the array of modules that I took. IE’s values are centred around the idea of future fit, tech, and the entrepreneurial mindset. And I found that their module choices reflected that. As an exchange student, I got to pick all my modules. I decided to make the most out of it and took modules I wouldn’t necessarily take here at Warwick. I took law, building an online business, multiple technological and analytical courses, social entrepreneurship… the list goes on. Consequently, these modules sparked an interest in me, and I finally found something I see myself doing for my future career.

Experiencing different teaching styles

There was an array of differences between WBS and IE Business School. One of the most significant differences was the number of modules I was taking. Since credits varied between modules at IE, I ended up taking 7 and 8 modules in terms 1 and 2, respectively. Whilst at Warwick I only take 4 modules per term. I found that the workload was very similar however it was difficult to immerse yourself in a specific subject because of the information overload from a high number of modules. Additionally, at Warwick, we have 3 different types of settings for classes: lectures, seminars and async work. However, at IE all module content were delivered through lecture-style classes.

Moreover, at IE, they have 2 periods of assessment per term, mid-terms and final exams, rather than being assessed through an essay or having the exam in term 3. In terms of class times, at IE, the shortest class I would have been 1.5 hours, and the longest would be 3 hours, depending on their corresponding credits. Now that I am back at Warwick, 1-hour classes go by so quickly!

Find out more about Arianne's top tips for applying for your year abroad and how to make the most of your experience.

Every WBS Undergraduate* has the opportunity to study abroad during their studies, if you would like to find out more about our courses on offer, download our Undergraduate brochure.

*Joint degrees may differ, please refer to the partner department for study abroad information.


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