Different Student Culture

In this post, I want to talk about the difference in student culture I’ve noticed in Madrid.

In Spain in general, the culture is very laid back. Everyone seems to move at a slower speed than I’ve been used to in the US. People tend to show up late to meetings, class, etc. and daily activities such as eating at a restaurant take hours. In the middle of every day everyone takes a break during the siesta period to rest and/or eat (except if you have class as a University student). Overall, I have noticed how in the US everyone has a pretty strict schedule and they tend to show up to things on time, while in Madrid everyone takes more time to themselves. It took a while to adjust, but I have learned to appreciate it.

In each of my classes at IE University I have been put in group projects with full-time students, whether they’re from Spain or some other European country. My classmates seem to take school a little less seriously than we do in the US, finishing assignments right before class and often times talking their way into getting deadline extensions. During the 10 minute break in between classes, most students go outside to smoke and chat with friends. It’s common for them to come back to their next class a few minutes after it has started.

It’s also common for some students to miss class because of trips around Europe. People plan trips to various countries throughout the school year, and their flights may conflict with their class schedule. Sometimes people will come right from the airport to class. When people miss class because of flights it’s not a big deal and everyone seems to know where they are. People seem to value life experiences more than school here, which I’ve noticed is different from what I’ve experienced at UMD. There aren’t as many homework assignments during the semester as we tend to have in the US, which allows students to have more time to hangout with their friends, travel, and enjoy life.

I really like how everyone is friends in each class. At IE, students stay in the same group for all 4 or 5 years of their degree. Each group is composed of either all first-year students, second-year students, third-year students, etc. and they take all of their classes together. Instead of having classes full of different people with the same professor for that subject like we do at UMD, the students stay together and the professors for each subject constantly change. This allows each class to bond and become close friends. Even though there are vastly different personalities in each class, they all talk to each other and act like a family. They even take trips together over weekends and breaks sometimes. Even though I am 1 of a few exchange students per class, the students are all pretty inclusive and friendly. I have noticed that these European students tend to be more willing to help out than students at the Smith School tend to be.

My mindset has definitely changed since being here. I will take note of how friendly and inclusive everyone has been to me in class and try to focus more on that when I get back to UMD. Since UMD is a much larger school than IE, I don’t tend to notice the International exchange students as much, but I will definitely be more aware now and offer them any help I can. I think I have become adjusted to the laid back attitude and culture in Spain, so that will also be an adjustment when I get back to the US.

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