As a first-year student pursuing a dual degree at IE University in Segovia, I can honestly say that before arriving at university, I heard many of the basic sentences people say when you tell them you’re going to college. Phrases like “It’s so much better than high school, but it’s more work,” “You’ll learn so much about yourself,” “Everyone’s university experience is different,” “Everyone is feeling the same emotions as you, so don’t be scared to try something new,” etc. popped up in most of my daily conversations. However, I did not fully understand the truth behind these sentences until a few weeks into the first semester.
It was easy to see that the majority of freshmen shared my feelings of excitement, confusion, and fear. But I also quickly realized some key advice that others overlooked that would have made my life at IE easier, such as the fact that moving to a Spanish-speaking country will mean that very few people speak English other than students, or that IE’s driving innovation process signified the Blackboard website failing you multiple times during classes. Furthermore, no one ever discusses the difficulties of living alone, and despite the fact that I have grown accustomed to the lovely green walls of the Factory Residence Hall, I still occasionally yearn for my house. Because of all these unspoken academic and social adaptations you encounter when starting university, this process was not as easy as anticipated.
For starters, no one warned me about the freshmen flu and how most students become victims of it during their first few weeks at Segovia. I did not expect to become a regular at Hospital Recoletas on Calle Dr. Velasco, 40003, after only 3 weeks since saying goodbye to my family. In addition to the flu, I also had an eye infection and a cut on my leg. The first two issues are self-explanatory. The last one, however, deserves an explanation, which is going to give you some insight into what it is like to go to the hospital without your parents for the first time.
On Tuesday, September 27th, I put on a dress and boots to go to Irish, the infamous club that is most popular among IE students. The night started with shots at Drillo’s and ended with a deep open wound on my calf from stepping on someone’s broken glass. That night, I learned many things. First, there are many kind students at IE who are willing to help you even if they do not know you. Second, if your leg is severely bleeding, go to the hospital the same night to get stitches. Since I didn’t know that at the time, I decided to go the next morning, which resulted in me having to take multiple hospital visits for constant check-ups. I had to manage the stress of making sure my wound healed, while having midterms and making sure I finalized any legal matters to avoid getting deported. Thankfully, I successfully completed all three tasks. However, I could not have managed without the help of my new friends, who frequently checked up on me or even accompanied me to the hospital for translation purposes.
Regardless of the mishaps, I may say that there are also some good things they forgot to tell me, like the fact that even if university is hard, it is worth it. I have enjoyed my time at IE so far. I love that I can walk to most places because I get to enjoy the beautiful scenery that Segovia has to offer. As a Jordanian, the biggest culture shock was that drivers actually stopped and let pedestrians cross the road at crosswalks. Additionally, I became eager to learn the Spanish language to be able to operate in life more easily. Although the language barrier was hard at first, it became easier within a short period of time. One vocabulary word I learned the hard way was that “cerveza” means beer and not napkins. Instead, you should ask a receptionist for a “servilleta”, which means napkins.
After living in Segovia for two months, I believe I now know which restaurants I love and which ones to avoid. At the top of the list is Trattoria da Mario, an Italian restaurant with the best food in Segovia. I recommend eating anything from their menu. The staff is also very kind and ensures that your food is satisfactory. Another great place is Selfish Poke. If you’re in the mood for spicy food, Taj Mahal is a good place to eat. My personal favorites are the garlic chicken and the chicken tikka masala. Finally, Pandora serves delicious slow-cooked pork rib tacos. As for the bad restaurants, Rosa Mexicano Taqueria and El Secreto de San Clemente will leave you disappointed. Therefore, avoid them and thank me later.
I find myself enjoying even the mundane days at university. They make for great ways to bond with other students. For instance, students in an economics degree program taking Mathematics for Economists can bond with other students over the number of times they had to redo their homework due to technical issues with Blackboard. Additionally, there is plenty of time to bond with other people in your degree when you have classes from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., also known as a regular Wednesday for most BIEBIR students—or most double degrees.
On a more serious note, my life at IE University continues to fulfill me and surpass my expectations of how great university life is. Regardless of the fact that there were some things people did not warn me about—which, in the end, I think was good—having lived in Segovia just for a short time, I already feel at ease with the people, the places, and the classes. I did not expect to become close friends with such amazing people in such a short amount of time. There is a strong sense of community in Segovia amongst the students, which I think is not that common in most universities. People do not necessarily need to be friends with you to show you their generosity. In terms of education, one of the advantages of being at IE is having smaller class sizes than other universities. It makes it easier for teachers to get to know you and be able to help you whenever you need it. After reflecting on how much I have grown at IE thus far, I am eager to continue studying here and try new things in the future.
I sincerely hope that this advice becomes useful when you begin your university career. Although this is simply my personal experience, I hope you will learn from my mistakes and avoid them. However, I believe that during your first semester of university, you are bound to make mistakes no matter how much advice you hear beforehand, which is okay because they will mold you into the person you need to be to thrive as a university student.
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