Erasmus is the predominant study abroad program here in Europe. Pretty much everyone I know who isn't from Barcelona or California is an Erasmus exchange student. Yesterday in my Indigenous Societies class, we learned the program was founded not on academic principles, but primarily established for networking purposes. Per my professor, it is simply about the politics of getting foreign students to "mingle, fall in love, and go live in each other's countries." Huh. (The correlation between fraternizing college students and indigenous societies, you ask? None. There are four people in the class; we tangent a lot.)
On the flip side, several people on separate occasions have remarked how "different" Si and I are compared to the other foreign students they have previously come into contact with. It shocks them when we say we are studying abroad...and find that we actually study (I know, I know, you are all equally surprised). Our pastor's wife keeps telling us that everyone else is usually entirely consumed with traveling and partying, school being the absolute last thing on their minds, if at all. Who would have guessed?
Hands down, UCSD is a million times more rigorous than our university here, but last semester was nonetheless challenging in its own right. Yet somehow, perhaps it was all the effort we actually concerted for once in our lives, we managed to not only pass all our classes (inlcuding the ones given in languages we neither speak nor understand...), but also come out with some pretty decent grades. I say it's time for a few trips; only two and a half weeks until Spring Break!
**To give a glimpse of the vibrant academic environment that exists at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona: Si's classmate found Steven Colbert's I Am America (and so can you!) book as a legitimate resource in the history section of our humanities library. Ehh.