“I’m lucky to be doing what I do now” says Andrea of her studies at CEU UCH

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“I’m lucky to be able to choose to do what I like and to be doing what I do now.”

A music lover from Lyon, France, Andrea has come to study at the University CEU Cardenal Herrera in the double degree programme of Political Sciences and Business Administration. But why did she decide to study in a degree programme taught in Spanish, and why in Valencia in particular? We sat down to talk.

Hello, Andrea! Let’s get to know you first. Could you tell us who you are, where you come from, what you study… and what do you do when you are not studying?

My name is Andrea Sausse. I’m from Lyon, the third biggest city in France. I study at Lyon, too, at Jean Moulin University Lyon 3. I’m studying what we call the DUT in France, diplôme universitaire de technologie. My diploma is on economics, marketing, management, law… It’s quite general. The DUT is a two-year programme, but something special is that I’m studying mine for three years: I’m doing an art option. Normally we have 35 hours of classes each week for two years, but with this option they have spread the hours for a three year period, giving us the possibility to do arts.

And as I’m doing arts, for me that means music. I play guitar, piano… I’m really interested in playing different instruments. I also have a melodica, drums, a kalimba… I actually brought my guitar and ukulele here with me!

Here at University CEU Cardenal Herrera I’m studying in the double degree programme of Political Sciences and Business Administration. The latter is linked to my studies in France, but I hadn’t studied Political Sciences before.

How and why did you decide to come to Spain? What attracted you to Valencia and to University CEU Cardenal Herrera in particular?

I’m not here on any exchange programme, I arranged my studies here by myself. I still have to finish my studies in France, as I have one year left — or I can stay and continue studying here.

My university in France offers an exchange for the third year, for one semester, but the only destination available is Canada. I applied for this exchange and was accepted for it by my university, but there were problems at the other end and I couldn’t go. After that, my university said that I could go anywhere I wanted to, for a year. So I took the opportunity, and arranged this!

I found CEU UCH on the Internet. And I chose to come to Valencia, because I had been to Valencia about two or three years ago for one day: I was on a cruise, and we stopped in the city for one day. I remember that I loved the city, all the buildings and the closeness to the sea which you can’t get in Madrid. I could have chosen Barcelona, too, but I don’t speak Catalan. I had studied Spanish for five years, but I hadn’t practiced it for two years during my time at the university: I had had to choose between Spanish and guitar, and I chose guitar.

I wanted to go to England as I have lots of friends there, but it wasn’t cheap. And so far I haven’t done any Erasmus+ exchanges, but with DUT you can do two six-month exchanges. I wanted to keep that option for going to England: after my studies here I still have the option for an Erasmus+ exchange!

Andrea chose to study in a Spanish degree programme, because she wanted to improve her language skills.
Andrea chose to study in a degree programme taught entirely in Spanish, because she wanted to improve her language skills.

Is this your first time studying or living abroad?

No, I did a one-month internship in Liverpool. That was during the first year of my studies: with DUT you have to do two internships, and for me that means internships for the first and the third year. So maybe for my second internship I’ll go back to England!

I did my internship at a Barnardo’s charity shop. In the store we sold only toys, and I had so much fun!

And before that I had done a two-week English course in Manchester when I was 16 years old.

You come from France! Can you compare studies in Spain and France, what differences and similarities have you noticed? Have you been surprised by anything special?

In France I think we study more: I don’t have as many classes here in Spain. Also in France you can do shorter studies, I don’t think I found any here that lasted less than three or four years.

Here in Spain I have classes only in the afternoon, except on Wednesdays when I have classes for the whole day. In France we have classes for the entire day from Monday to Friday, in total 35 hours of studies each week. And with my art option I have 10 hours of music each week and normal classes for 20-25 hours a week.

For me it’s difficult to follow classes in Spanish, as I didn’t practice my Spanish for two years. I’m missing a lot of vocabulary for the subjects I’m studying, so studying can get tiring with having to mix languages. But I chose to do my studies in Spain in Spanish: I had looked into English programmes in other universities in Spain, but not at CEU UCH. When CEU UCH was the first to answer me — I was applying late! — I chose to study here. In the end I don’t want to be studying in English in Spain as English is not my priority now, I want to improve my Spanish!

And we actually have a lot of French students in Spanish degree programmes here! I’m studying a double degree, so I have classes in two different subjects. In one class there are three French students, and in the other another French girl.

How have you adapted to the Spanish culture? Did you have any culture shocks?

In Spain people take their time! But they are really nice. And I really like the food!

I haven’t had any cultural shocks, because I actually have family in Spain and so I have visited Spain many times. I have travelled all around the country, but I know Barcelona the best!

Andrea has enjoyed her stay in Valencia, as the city reminds her of her hometown Lyon.
Andrea has enjoyed her stay in Valencia, as the city reminds her of her hometown Lyon.

What do you think about Valencia? Have you enjoyed your stay here? What has been your favourite thing about the city?

I think it’s the nicest place in Spain! It’s my favourite.

I like the buildings, they are made with curves and waves. And they are so high compared to the ones in Lyon! What I like about Valencia is that it’s the third biggest city in Spain, just like Lyon is the third biggest in France. I feel like I’m in my own town, but everything is still bigger here, I feel a little bit small. But there are quite a lot of things that are similar!

What is something that students coming here must experience?

I have been to the Oceanogràfic three times, once during that first visit some years ago and twice more now. Every student should go to the Oceanogràfic and visit the other complexes in the City of Arts and Sciences, too. I would advise them to go to Umbracle, which is the big club here: it’s maybe more of an attraction than a normal club! They should go to Gulliver park, and the Turia Gardens in general.

And, this is the best thing ever — there’s a church, Parroquia San Nicolás. It’s the most beautiful thing I have seen, the paintings, the gold… It has a tiny entrance, I would never have guessed what is inside, seeing it from the street.

Valencia is truly a good student city, I think it’s more multicultural than Lyon. In Lyon we have a lot of students from all over France, but for example we don’t have any students from abroad in my programme.

Would you recommend this experience to other students?

Yes! CEU UCH is really nice, although a bit far from the centre.

What are your plans for the future?

I have my finals here in June, and after that I don’t know what I’ll be doing! I like my studies in France and I want to finish my diploma. I would like to try get a diploma in electroacoustic music, and for that I would have to return to France. I could also return here after finishing my studies in France.

I’m lucky to be able to choose to do what I like and to be doing what I do now.

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