During the process of applying for the Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Languages at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, getting accepted, figuring out where I would live in Barcelona, packing my bags, arriving in the city, and finally enrolling at the campus; I made a decision that completely shifted my academic trajectory. I choose not to do deep research about the course’s learning content and evaluation system.
If I had been aware FROM THE VERY BEGINNING about every intellectual challenge I would have to succeed to graduate I would have come in as a frightened and insecure student or, even worse, I would have given it all up and stayed in my hometown. My negligence outtake on the complex academic path I was going for ALLOWED me to view my foreignness NOT as a disadvantage in comparison to my colleagues BUT YES as something that made me truly special. I didn’t have to be prepared for everything that was to come. I just had to deal with what was asked of me in the present moment.
The key to succeeding as a foreign student is not being uncomfortable to ask for help. Each and every one of my classmates and the people who work at UPF is more than happy to give me support. But they won’t do it if I don’t make it CLEAR that I wanted their help. They’re not telepaths. In addition, I make sure to always show how grateful I am for these individuals taking their time and energy to make my student life easier and more pleasant.
My university experience has been the most impactful thing I have ever done in my life. It has proven to me that I don’t need background knowledge to thrive in any subject. I can develop proficiency and expertise as I go.
Even though I still don’t get many of the jokes made in the Catalan language, my course has made me feel belonged because there isn’t such a thing as gatekeeping any aspect of the local’s culture. My only criticism about the programme is that I think we should have less translation-focused subjects. If we wanted to be translators we would’ve enrolled for the Translation and Interpretation Bachelor Degree. My favourite things about studying Applied Languages at UPF are: a professor named Carmen del Río (she’s the best teacher I have ever had), the campus (absurdly nice to be there) and having so many intelligent young people around me.