In honor of midterms looming over my weekend plans, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to my university experience thus far. Get ready to be schooled.
The GW Madrid program is housed at La Universidad Aútonoma de Madrid, a public university that is located on the outskirts of the city. For any GW student, the atmosphere is the polar opposite of Foggy Bottom. The school used to be run by the military, which is another way of insinuating that it’s not the prettiest campus I’ve ever seen.
Yet what it lacks aesthetically, it gains in its academics. From what I have experience in the Spanish education system, there is a huge value placed in the relationship between professors and their students. For the first time in a long time, I’ve felt that professors truly care about getting to know their students so they can note their strengths and weaknesses.
The attention is incredible. I’ve caught myself not even realizing that I’m participating in class discussion because in this atmosphere it comes so naturally. As a result, my professors have gotten to know me besides just reading my papers and exams.
I find this extremely important because it not only makes me more confident about my work, but as a student. I do not feel like I just need to get through a class because professors really try to work with me to develop my understanding. I feel stimulated to keep learning. Also, they really value not bombarding students with 30 pages of reading a night. They would rather students focus intently on several assignments and have enough time to study in their other classes. I feel stimulated to keep learning.
Getting to know professors is also fascinating. I’ve found myself discussing politics and breaking down House of Cards with my literature professor on our train ride back home. My political science professor took us to visit the Spanish Congress, but the best treat was discussing the importance of political research over coffee and churros. These discussions out of the classroom are exactly the moments where I believe a professor can assess a student’s passion and ability, which are hard to determine from a black and white exam.
Even though its a refreshing experience, I still have to study for midterms, which is still a pain no matter what country a student is in.