Facilities and Support
At the beginning of the semester, and before the start of classes at the universities in Barcelona, all students must complete at least one academic advising session with the CASA-Barcelona team. This session aims to guide the student on selecting regular courses: evaluating types of courses, subjects and teachers, etc. Students must be in continuous contact with their home universities to confirm that the courses taken in Barcelona's universities can be transferred.
One month after the start of the classes, a second meeting with the members of CASA-Barcelona will be scheduled to analyze the student's progression in each course, to detect if there are any problems and — if any exisit — to find the appropriate solutions.
CASA-Barcelona offers tutoring sessions with local students throughout the semester. The main objective of these sessions is to help students acquire the skills and strategies necessary to follow the courses at the partner universities. The tutor also helps the students with preparation and writing of written work, as well as with the preparation for exams. These reinforcement classes are at the student's request, which must take into account the following:
- Students must request tutoring at least seven days in advance, and send the teaching plan (syllabus) to the tutor before meeting with them for the first time, as well as questions before each session.
- The tutor will help the student with the content, planning, and structure. It is advisable to take the class notes to the session because when consulting with them, more questions may arise.
- Grades in Spanish universities are typically lower than in American schools, and many local students feel very satisfied if they earn a "5" ("10" is the maximum score). Therefore, only if a student takes the course seriously and works hard throughout the semester can they expect a high grade.
- Although it may not seem important, attending classes every day is essential. It is very difficult to pass a course if a student has not attended all the sessions.
- Observe the unwritten rules. As in the United States, each university has its customs. It is essential to observe, explore and talk with local students.
- The first day of class is the most important: the teacher will explain the program, the prerequisites, requirements, and how the course will be evaluated. It is necessary to keep all the documents that are distributed, including the course syllabus/bibliography, which will validate the credits at a student's home university.
- Students should see the professor at their office. European teachers do not give feedback and that is why it is important that the student talk with them and show them that they are interested in their course.
- Read the bibliography of the subject, although it seems that the teacher does not give it importance.
- Design a weekly plan and fulfill it.
- Share study time with classmates.
- Use the library of the university.
- In Europe, the learning effort is carried out by the student.
- In local universities there are very few "A" grades.
- Sit near the teacher and the blackboard.
- If something is not understood, ask the teacher to repeat or clarify it.
- Read the materials and notes of the previous classes.
- Always carry a dictionary and consult the words that are not understood.
Notes are not enough to pass a course. What to highlight:
- Date: each page must contain the date of the session.
- Students do not have to write everything the teacher says: it's not a speech.
- It is necessary to point out what the teacher repeats, what they write on the blackboard, definitions, concepts and theories; listings, dates, names.
How to take notes (see Cornell 5R method):
- It is better to use a folder with subfolders than a notebook.
- Each new topic should start on a new sheet.
- Create a glossary of course/subject terms.
The dates of the exams at the university are official, and therefore cannot be changed. Students should also become informed about the type of evaluation for each course. Some subjects, especially in the UB, have two types of evaluation: summative and progressive. Each of them is different even if it is the same course, and it is the student who decides what type of evaluation they prefer after consulted with the teacher. CASA-Barcelona always recommends that students choose a progressive assessment.
- Get good class notes and notes of the readings.
- If a student can choose, it is better to have a written test than oral. Periodically review the notes, and do not prepare for exams at the last minute. Organize the notes in a "question-answer" style.
- It is essential to rest well the day before the exam.
- Read the test slowly and carefully, trying to understand all the questions. If a student has doubts, they should ask the professor or proctor. It also helps to underline the key words of each question.
- Calculate the time according to the number and type of questions.
- Choose the questions that get better and organize the response order of the test: first answer those that are easily mastered.
- In essay-type questions, it is important to write a draft before responding, and to organize the ideas into logical and hierarchical paragraphs.
- Write with clarity, cleanliness and order.
- Read the exam before handing it in to the professor.
- Local students know the university, the teachers and what they expect from the students. They also know the unwritten rules.
- Students of CASA-Barcelona should approach the local students, and not the other way around. Once the effort has been made, the local students will offer their help.
- Making local friends will help to prepare better notes and readings, and prepare better exams. Sharing notes is a common practice and a good way to improve.
- Do not use the strategies of local students: they have two opportunities to pass a course.
- Organizing study groups with classmates will help prepare for the course, distribute the readings, and have good notes.
When working on a project or on coursework with local students, it should be remembered that:
- Local students are usually not punctual, neither at the beginning of the meeting nor at the end.
- When they meet, they do not usually do practical work. The work is distributed and each one does it separately.
- It is difficult to argue with them, so it is advised that each student create their own space in the meetings and be assertive.
Essays and works
- Papers or essays tend to be more extensive than in American universities.
- The format is important. The typeface, the line spacing, the margins, the rules for quoting the bibliography consulted, and any other aspect related to the format that must be taken into account should be consulted with the professor.
- Remember that the European paper size is different. The A4, not the 8.5" x 11", letter size is used. It is advised that students review their text editing program and adjust the page size to DIN-A4.
- If you have to work with spreadsheets, such as Excel, bear in mind that in Europe the numerical system has its peculiarities. Decimals are separated by commas, not points. Students must reconfigure their calculation program to share data with their teacher or classmates.
The CASA-Barcelona center has a small collection of reference books on the society and history of Catalonia and Spain. The student will find dictionaries, grammar books, and manuals used in the most popular courses taken by CASA-Barcelona students.
You can consult the catalog through this link: https://www.zotero.org/groups/2047310/biblioteca_casa/items/order/creator/sort/asc
There are two large library networks that the student can use to locate resources: the University Union Catalogue of Catalonia (CSUC) and the public libraries of Barcelona. In addition, the university libraries are open on weekdays from 8:30am-9pm, and some of them also on public holidays from 10am-9pm. During the exam period, the opening hours are much longer.
All the university libraries have their catalog, or borrowable materials, online, which can be consulted through the web page of the library of each university or through the unified catalog CSUC. In addition, the libraries of the universities of Barcelona offer specific services such as the statute and access to thematic collections or electronic publications.
CASA-Barcelona students can enjoy all these services, although they must always do so through the university in which they are enrolled (UAB, UB, UPF or UPC). Thus, if a student needs a book from the UAB library, but is not enrolled in this university, he or she must request the book from their local university interlibrary loan service, who will be the one to request the book from the UAB.
Borrowing books and materials
Students enrolled in any of the four universities will have access to their loan service and be able to consult many on-line databases through their intranet. These universities allow the loan of books between any of them and even with any other university library in Spain. However, in the latter case, the costs (in terms of time and money) are high.
In addition to the network of university libraries, Barcelona has one of the best public library networks in Europe. These libraries also have a unified catalog, so a user can request any book without having to go to the library where the book is located.
Next to the North bus station (Metro: Arc de Triomf) is the Fort Pienc public library. In order to borrow books from this library, it is sufficient to present two passport-sized photographs and an identification document. From this library, the student can request any book that is in the network of public libraries. Among the libraries integrated in this public network, and of special interest for some, is the Francesca Bonnemaison Library, which specializes in feminist publications and gender studies. It has the oldest and richest funds in Catalonia on the feminist movement, and occupies part of a building that housed the first female professional school in Spain.
In the city, particularly in the center, there are countless bookstores, although not all of them are specialized in university textbooks. The manuals that are usually used in the classes are often available in the libraries of the universities and, in addition, each campus usually has its own library with discounts for students. Some of the bookstores that stand out for their specialization in university textbooks are the following:
- La Central
c / Mallorca, 237 (near the CASA-Barcelona center)
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am-9pm.
- The Central del Raval
c / Elisabets, 6 (near the Faculty of Geography and History of the UB)
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:30am to 9pm, and Saturdays, 10am-9pm.
- Laie Pau Claris
c / Pau Claris 85 (next to Metro Plaça Urquinaona)
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9am to 9pm, and Saturdays, 10am to 9pm.