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Siestas and Fiestas

iHola a todos! Today marks 3 months since I’ve been in my host city of Pamplona, Spain. In that time I’ve been busy travelling, making amazing friends from all over the world, going out, having new experiences, and studying at the University of Navarra.

The university is amazing and so far I’ve been enjoying the majority of my classes. It’s similar to UTS in generally consisting of a mix of lectures, tutorials and practicals for science subjects. I would say the coursework is similar in difficulty but in a lot of aspects it can be more relaxed. For example, they are a lot less strict on lab protocol than in UTS science facilities. One thing I’m really loving about the university here is the outdoor spaces, it’s a very large campus with plenty of spots to relax on the grass and look at the mountains nearby, a big change of pace to an urban university like UTS. I was accepted to the university as a science student and so the majority of my subjects are in that faculty (Genetics Engineering, Environmental Toxicology and Public Health, Environmental Education and Communication). However, I also chose two humanities subjects (Spanish and Worldview and Ethics) which I would really recommend doing as it breaks up the work a bit better and allows you to meet people from other faculties.

Everyday I’m happier that I chose to study in a place like Pamplona as opposed to a more well-known city like Madrid or Barcelona. At first I was unsure of my choice but since I arrived I’ve fallen in love with the city. Pamplona is such an authentic, fun place, it’s large enough that there are always new places to explore, but small enough that everything is walkable, and there is a real sense of community with the students. UNAV is made up of one third international students so it’s very easy to find people who want to have similar experiences. One thing I would recommend is just being proactive with making friends, most people that go on exchange are fairly social so you can pretty safely assume if you ask them if they want to hang out they will probably be happy you asked.

Some of the experiences I’ve had so far have already been amazing. We went to the city of San Sebastian for Tamborrada (a drumming festival) where we stayed from 8pm till 7am eating and dancing. We’ve explored bigger towns like Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia and Barcelona, and also had really great experiences heading to smaller unique towns like Olite and having a wine tour and seeing a castle. This weekend was Carnaval so my friend and I headed to Sitges, Barcelona, where there are parades and dancing and food all day for celebrations similar to Mardi Gras. I would definitely say it’s fun to do a mix of things and destinations to get a really unique exchange experience that doesn’t just consist of the main tourist cities!

Another prime tip is to budget from the very beginning. I tried to live similar to my Sydney lifestyle at first which was a terrible idea and has really affected my budget now more than it would have if I had stuck to one from the beginning, not involving coffees, pastries and the occasional new clothing item. Definitely start budgeting correctly when you arrive and invest some time making sure you will have enough. Other than that, if you are considering exchange I cannot recommend it highly enough- I am having the best time of my life and have never been happier, well worth being broke for the foreseeable future! Exchange is always a good idea, and a great way to start to understand yourself and have fun. iHasta luego!

Miranda Bettes
Bachelor of Biotechnology
Universidad de Navarra

For more information about the UTS Global Exchange program please visit:

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