First part of the interview to Victor and to Anita. Both students of Dentistry at University CEU Cardenal Herrera. Victor from Taiwan and Anita from United Kingdom share with us their impressions and their thoughts after 4 years at University CEU Cardenal Herrera.
Victor and Anita, why did you choose to come to this university? What was it about the programme that attracted you the most?
VICTOR. One of the reasons was that after we graduate we can work in Europe, or move to Germany, as you wouldn´t be able to get an opportunity like this in Taiwan. The second reason is because we have the opportunity to learn about another culture. We not only study dentistry, we study Spanish culture, the European culture and the Spanish language as well. We are also making friends from all over the world, as there are also, English students, Indian students, etc. As you know Europe is much more developed than Taiwan, so I think this is another reason why I wanted to study here, I now have a lot more choices, I can go back home, I can continue my studies here, do a Master´s Degree, go to study somewhere else in Europe, maybe study in America, etc. Because of the political situation in Taiwan, it would be very difficult for us to do something like this there, it wouldn´t be as smooth a process as it is here.
ANITA. I came here straight after my A levels and I knew I wanted to do dentistry, but I also wanted to live in Spain but I didn´t want to take a gap year and then I found this course, which really was perfect, as it was a Dentistry course in Spain! I hadn´t made my mind up until I actually came here and met a few of the people and a few of the teachers and then I just thought actually this is a really nice place, sometimes you just get a really good feeling about a place and as I´m sure you know yourself everyone here is really friendly. The facilities in the dental school are really good as well.
I like Europe a lot because the countries work together as a group and they all want to improve themselves and to be the best. For me to have the opportunity to work here is really great, because I have access to all the latest technology and information, so I can give my patients a better service and I can even go back to Taiwan and teach them about all these new technologies and information that they are using in Europe, so I think that is the benefit of coming to study at a university in Spain.
Have the university staff and students made you feel welcome?
VICTOR. Yes, I really felt that they wanted to help us. They know that we have come from a long way away, from the other side of the world, so they try to speak to us in English and even learnt some Chinese. They also want to learn about our culture, which is really interesting because normally in Taiwan or Asia even, if we see a foreign person we want to talk to them or hang out with them, but we wouldn´t think about asking them about their culture, but Spanish people do, they want to learn more about Taiwan, learn more about Asia… So I think they do make us feel welcome here. We are now part of this big university family and as such they really want us to learn to speak the language. At the same time, the Spanish students want to learn about us and to help us to make our stay here a better experience.
ANITA. Yes, as I said before they have been really welcoming, from day one. We had mentors in the first year which was really helpful and even now if you ask for help from any of your past or present teachers, they´ll all be willing to help you.
How have you found your course so far, is it what you expected it would be like?
VICTOR. I think the course is better than I expected, we have very good teachers, they consider everyone individually, if you are not sure about something, you can always ask the teacher, they want to help you as much as they can. We also have some really great quality equipment, some of the latest technology around.
ANITA. Yes, it is what I expected it to be like, because everyone does say that Dentistry is hard! But, no its actually fine, you just have to work hard and be really organized, it´s not actually the content of the work, I think it´s more that you have to be focused and organized and then that way you won´t panic at the last minute and think, oh no!
I haven´t done anything! So, I think organization is key really!
What are the services you use the most at the university?
VICTOR. The library, I always go there between classes or to take a break. I also go to the student canteen a lot, there´s a good variety of food you can have a small sandwich or have a big meal. What´s really interesting for us is that there´s also a microwave there where you can heat up your own food, because we don´t have these sort of appliances at the restaurant in our university. I think it´s also quite a nice idea though.
ANITA. The library is amazing, especially during exam time, and then mainly the tutors whenever you have a query they´re always there to help you; after class, before class, even during their lunch breaks. Even if you e-mail them at 8pm, the night before an exam, they´ll reply straight away and that´s something you don´t really get in the UK, they´re just really, really helpful, so it´s great!
What has been the best experience you´ve had at the university so far?
VICTOR. The support that our teachers have given us throughout our time her and especially when we first arrived in Spain. This is my fourth year in Spain, but I can still remember when I first arrived, I didn´t really know how to speak or communicate with Spanish people, but our classmates and teachers tried to help us and asked us if there was anything we needed help and this was really useful because we know how to do the basic things, but really needed someone to help and guide us if we wanted to do any cultural activities or we wanted to visit another region in Spain. I can still remember one of my first year teachers helping me to buy train tickets to Madrid on line, and although this wasn´t part of his job, he always tried to help us, which was really nice of him to do. He could even translate a few things for us and was very keen for us to learn Spanish.
ANITA. The best experience has probably been setting up the Dentistry society at the end of last year, we´ve been having some events and are planning to have a winter ball next term and a masquerade ball in the second term. There are quite a few Asian people on our course so we had a dental society Divali dinner at an Indian restaurant in Valencia, which was really nice, everyone came, even non-Asian people, which was really good! We´re starting a sports society too, I mean there are already sports societies at the university but we want to use this sports society to try and get the Spanish side and the bilingual side of the Dentistry Degree to interact a bit more. We are also going to be working with some charities and doing some fundraising events, which will be really good!
… and the worst experience?
VICTOR. I think the only thing that I found difficult at first was, as I mentioned before, the way people rest on Sunday and have long breaks at work, because in Taiwan we are used to a more demanding work level. We took some time to get used to this but in the end we learnt to appreciate this kind of life style and work ethic… So, perhaps this could be my worst experience, my first impressions of Spain.
ANITA. The worst experience… I mean I am honestly having a good time so far, I think the worst thing though was that when I first came here, I was the only girl in my class and I´d come straight from a girl school, so it was a bit of a shock for me at first but it wasn´t too bad. I just became one of the boys! Then I got to know all the Taiwanese people, who are lovely, so I made really good friends with them… I don´t think this was necessarily a bad experience it was just different, very different. I also didn´t know anyone, but then we all ended up becoming really good friends as we´re a small group.
Who has been the most inspirational person you have come across during your studies at the CEU-UCH?
VICTOR. It would have to be professor Arlinda, she is the Head of our Programme and I think she´s done a really great job of organising and managing the programme, the students, the teachers, everything. She was my teacher last year and I think she was really inspirational, she really helped me to learn new things and although she isn´t my lecturer anymore, I still go to her when I need any advice or I want a second opinion on something.
ANITA. There´s two people actually, one of them is Veronica, who was my lecturer last year, she´s just amazing, I´ve just never seen someone be so passionate about something. I think we all want to be like her and have that same sort of passion, I think we do, but she just knows the subject inside out and has a really special way of putting her passion across during her classes; Even if a subject was really hard, she made us like it.
Then the other person is a student who didn’t speak any English or Spanish when he came here and now he can speak both languages and it´s really good because you can see that he´s become a lot more confident, he couldn´t say a word before and it must have been so hard for him, I don´t know how he´s managed it!
Would you recommend this course to other international students?
VICTOR. Yes, because you get to discover more about the world and I think the whole cultural aspect is great, but I have to warn you that you´re going to experience change like never before, you´re going to have to leave your family behind, you´ll have to live by yourself, learn how to cook for yourself, do your washing you have to learn how to live for yourself. So if you want to choose this road, then you to have to see it through to the end, don´t fail half way through. It´s a great opportunity, but I think you have to be aware of these things too. For any students coming here, don´t just focus on your Degree whilst you are here because, because this experience is a treasure… mountain full of treasures and Dentistry is just a part of this, you have a whole new language and culture to discover, I even learnt how to cook Spanish food as well and this is all going to prepare you for your future life… so if you think this is something you could do, take a chance and go for it!
I think it would be a great opportunity for Asian students coming to the university, because they can learn a lot from the Spanish culture, how to relax and live outside work, especially. In Spain everyone rests and has a break on Sundays, in Asia however, this never happens we´ll still work or study; we still want to be doing something. We are very good at working but we do not know how to live outside of work, so this is an interesting aspect of Spanish culture they can discover during their time here.
ANITA. Yes, I would definitely! Actually quite a few people that I know from the UK have actually started the course this year and a few started last year also. I think everyone really likes the course, so I definitely would recommend it!
You will find in some days, the rest of the interview…. Victor and Anita will give to future students some advices, and will speak about future plans and dificulties of spanish language.
See you in the next post with Victor and Anita!!!!!