Author Archives: Gagan

Gagan

About Gagan

Hi, My name is Gagan Grewal, I am 20 years old and I am spending my placement year as an Exchange student at Universidad Carlos 3, Madrid. Not only am I studying Economics, I also wish to share my journey with you.

Hasta Luego No Adios

It feels like yesterday that I vacated my apartment in Getafe, Madrid. It still did not hit me that I was leaving Spain, until I said ADIOS to the lady at the British Airways check in counter at T4 Madrid Barajas International Airport. A year of flashbacks followed that, where the emotional departure commenced.It has been a couple of weeks since I have returned home, and although it has taken time to adjust,  the memories of Spain are still fresh in the head.  I can proudly say that I have established a connection with Spain, with many of my new amigos demanding I return in the near future especially when I still have some regions to explore. Knowing I now have friends from around the world also shows a successful year and  I would not have had the amazing year I would have had without them. My choices in January proved successful as well, so I was able to end on a high note.

Saying Hasta Luego….

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Being a student of Aston University, I was fortunate to have many options for my 3rd year, and I’m 100% certain study abroad was the best decision I made. Although it was amazing,  it was not a year to doss around, it required hard work, like every stage in life. Once you see your accomplishments, you soon forget the hurdles you came across and feel proud of yourself.

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studying for finals is so fun….

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There were times were I may have envied work placements because of the perks they obtained from their work placement, even some bragging was noticable, especially when I was studying for midterms, but at the end of the day I was grateful for the opportunity because when else am I going to have the opportunity to study abroad, Aqui o Nunca. Any option that makes you change for the better is the perfect choice, whether it is home or away, work or study.  I had the opportunity to develop my soft skills such as learning Spanish which too date I am still practicing, it is one skill I am not prepared to lose.

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Viva Espana

This experience also allowed me to travel to places I would have never have thought of visiting, which I am grateful for. I was able to add Granada to the list, in the future I would like to visit North of Spain and Barcelona.

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Spain has a large Latino population, and they have contributed to the social influence in Spain. I find this interesting, and thanks to this experience, it has lead to my ambition to visit Latin America in the near future. I now LOVE the music as well, so its questionable to say i am turning into a wannabe Latino/Hispanic/Espanol, watch out family and friends 😉 

I could go on and on and on, but we would be here all year, so we will keep this short now…..

My advice for people who are about to embark a journey similar to myself:

  • Take some home comforts with you
  • Do as much as you can, balance your life
  • Find out if your area has transport discounts (Madrid was amazing 20 euros a month for public transport , yes be jealous)
  • Do as much research as you can prior to arrival in your destination
  • Stay Safe, be humble, have fun,  make memories.

Finally,

*Prepares Acceptance Award* To sum up this year, a study placement is just not about studying, its about leaving your comfort zone and making an adventure of new discovering , becoming a stronger person, establishing new connections, developing your personality, being more spontaneous and adapting to change. I definitely gained from this experience, and I have my family, friends, the La Cuidad de Madrid, Aston University and Universidad Carlos Tercero de Madrid to thank for this experience. I would also like to thank my blog readers for encouragement and being interested in my adventure.

Un brazo,

 

Gagan Grewal

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T-21days

With only 3 weeks left till I leave Spain, the reality is starting to hit. After having my last midterm only a few days back (Midterm at the end of the term…It makes no sense, I KNOW), it is now time to prepare for the approaching exam period. In the back of the mind, I still want to make the most out of my time in Madrid.

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This is a statue is tributed to Carlos III, situated in Puerta De Sol. Carlos III was said to be an inspirational King and is also the name of my Erasmus University.

Making the most of my time means doing activities I wouldn’t do elsewhere. For example, Museums are not my ‘kinda scene’ but if a city has to offer it, why not take advantage of it, espeically when they are free for students. I visited the Prado Gallery museum with my friends Joshua Kandola, Adela Pointek, and  Sarya Wu. It is impressive and enormous but tiring at the time that you could fall asleep there (jajajajaja).  Reina Sofia Museum is a take on modern art, something different.I also have visited the  Museo Naval De Madrid with  friends Joshua Kandola and Auguso Nunez, and its interesting , but they actually do teach you a thing or two about the history of country and it makes you aware of what happened in the past that we were ignorant about.

 

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Post Prada

In April, one of my close  and annoying  friends, Devina Mistry, came to visit me. It is something I am grateful for, and it was cool  to show a friend of mine a GREAT city which happens to be a part of me. She was amazed at the city, where the Cathedral and Palacio Real were a favorite of hers. She was amazed of how cheap tapas was (and delicious to). She also thought she could have a full portion of Churros con chocolate, when in reality I had to finish them of.

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Reunited with Devina Mistry

 

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View of Cathedral from Palacio Real

The actual lifestyle of an Erasmus student is hectic, you are always finding yourself busy because you have made so many friends, piled with tonnes of work and you want to go adventuring around the country. Erasmus was  the time to learn how to balance  life properly, so when life gets more intense, you are able to cope with the balancing and prioritization of activities.

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Long awaited catch up with Cara Kennedy

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Meal time with course mates , at Anqi’s family restaurant, Alba Prieto, Elisa Heredia, Deli Wang, Ivan Logrosan, Joshua Kandola, Anqi Shan.

 

The sad things about Erasmus are saying goodbyes. Isabella DiPhillipo, my flatmate, was returning back to The USA. Why are we posed by a RECYCLING BIN you may ask. The reason being is because our other flatemate, Alessandro Baldon, is a complete pshyco who is obsessed with recycling.  Throughout the semester, Alessandro was a hardcore recycler who drove me and Bella insane with his recycling, but this is a photo that will remain with us forever. Best of luck Bella with your future studies in Maine!

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I can’t believe we did this jajaja

As I start preparing for exams, I would like to wish everyone in the same position as me (Erasmus or not) with the best of luck in their exams!! In Spain, we say Buena Suerte! Until next time..

 

Hasta Luego

 

Gagan Grewal

Time Is Ticking.

This academic year has definitely been a rocky year for sure, and despite being homesick at the beginning, I know for a fact when I finish my study placement, I will miss Spain! (OK not the study part!).

Travelling is a must do. Spain may not be as big as the USA or India, but believe me there is a lot of cultural differences and a lot of adventuring to be done in Spain.

Having missed out on an ESN TRIP (Student Network), to Valencia , My friends and I, the KRAZY KRYSTAL and CRAZY CARA set of to Valencia, the home of Paella. I travelled separately there as I had classes earlier in the day. The first day was muddle, they missed their train and I got to Valencia all well, despite being sent to the outskirts of Valencia, Xativa by a train worker when mistaken for Xativa Metro Station. However,  I loved it, a city that was a mixture of new and old, had a beach but was cosmopolitan at the same time.  Public transport wasn’t as great as Madrid and a lot of walking was done, but I am glad that I can tick Valencia of the list! My favourite part of Valencia was the Life and Sciences Museum area:

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Life and Science Museum. Credit to Krystal, she clicked a better photo!

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Cara, Me, Krystal in the old town, Valencia. There were times when we wanted to kill each other, but there were lots of good times to look back on.

Krystal asked me to do this, so I did... She wasn't expecting it. Considering a career in modelling now HAHA

Krystal asked me to do this, so I did… She wasn’t expecting it. Considering a career in modelling now HAHA!!

I also visited Sevilla in term 2, on my own due to unforeseen circumstances and I was nervous. Sevilla is definitely more traditional compared to Madrid, but it is a beautiful city.  This trip made me realise that I have an independent characteristic and many were proud of my solo adventuring. (What I mean is that I can actually look after my passport 😉 ). The main advantage of solo trips is that you can do what you want, whenever you want and how you want! The Alcazar Gardens was definitely my favourite sight in the city, which also happens to be a setting of ‘Games of Thrones’.

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The Real Alcazar. Muy Bonita.

The Famous Plaza De Espana

The Famous Plaza De Espana

Metropol Parasol

Metropol Parasol

As I only have a few months left, I am eagerly awaiting to tick the boxes on my to-do list. It is important to remember that although I am here on a study placement, being able to balance leisure time with working time is crucial. You should not work all day. If you find yourself not being able to concentrate, go gallivanting. I was bored of revising one SUNNY SUNDAY, so I decided to go Retiro Park with some friends. Retiro Park is an amazing park, one of my favourites and the Sun makes it better 100x. The ambience is amazing and there’s always street performances occurring. You can also go rowing!

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Being Spontaneous is also a great way to find out many events. For example, that very same day, I found out that a few Bollywood stars were in Madrid promoting the IIFA awards as they were going to take place in Madrid in June, and I was ‘so gassed that I could have exploded‘ with excitement. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet them, but it was nice knowing a part of my culture was being spread in Madrid.

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Finally, I would like to end this post as a memorial. Every March, there is a festival in Valencia known as ‘Fallas’ and it very popular. Many student organisations organised trips there, and many returned safely,  but a bus of ESN Barcelona crashed and sadly some left the world. I would like to pay my respects to the victims as well as their families. It’s tragic that students who were given the same opportunity as me, on a year abroad, and events like this make you feel grateful for life. RIP x

Hasta Luego

 

Gagan

 

 

Febero- Facil? Fiesta?

Buenas Tardes readers. February definitely has been a been a major turnaround for me; it has  taught me the importance of languages. I enrolled myself for the University Spanish A1.1 course, although this did make my bank account cry. Having studied Spanish for a couple of weeks already, I can tell you that I have fallen in love with the language, es muy bonita! For some reason this has given me more a purpose in Spain and I feel more connected to Spanish culture. Not only that, I have a fantastic teacher, Rocio, who manages to interact with us as if we were receiving 1 to 1 tuition. I would highly anyone to learn another language if they had the opportunity, it is an investment for your future and allows you access to more career opportunities. Students who are going on a study placement next year, you have no excuse, give it a go!

View from Building No.6 UC3M, Getafe Campus.

View from Building No.6 UC3M, Getafe Campus.

Another highlight of the month is the fact that I am now 21, and believe me this time last year I had no idea that I was going to be celebrating the big 21 in Madrid. I actually count myself lucky that I had this opportunity to do so and had an amazing fiesta with my friends in Madrid, some who I have only known for a couple of weeks.

On the way to Terato Kapital on the Big 21 with Cara Kennedy and Joshua Kandola.

On the way to Teatro Kapital on the Big 21 with Cara Kennedy and Joshua Kandola.

At Terato Kapital with my friends!

At Teatro Kapital with my friends!

To top things up, my family came to visit me for a couple of days as part of my birthday celebrations, to which I am ever so grateful for. My family loved Madrid and were very impressed with the city. There is a lot of culture in the city, to which I will discuss in a future blog.  They even noticed a positive change in my behavior. I also must give a shout out to my friend Avmeeta Virdee, who has also noticed a more happier content Gagan.

Mum and I at Plaza De España

Mum and I at Plaza De España

Sister, Brother In Law, Nephews, Me, Mum at Delcias Train Museum

Sister, Brother In Law, Nephews, Me, Mum at Delcias Train Museum

My Sister, nephew and I outside Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

My Sister, Nephew and I outside Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

My brother in law, nephew and I at Esadtio Santiago Bernabeu.

My Brother in law, Nephew and I at Esadtio Santiago Bernabeu.

In terms of university life, the majority of my modules are more interesting this semester, and it helps to choose modules that you enjoy. As well as that, I carefully planned the modules I was taking in this semester. My advice to students are undertaking a study placement soon is to research and plan carefully the modules you want to study. You will feel more engaged with classes and the last thing you want to do is study modules that serve you no purpose, because believe me, I have been in that situation. Luckily, I was able to learn from my mistakes to carefully choose in second semester.

Credit to Be Madrid. Enjoying a night with Cara, Nick (Exchange student from Indiana, USA), Joshua and Deniz ( Erasmus Exchange from Bilkent Üniversitesi, Ankara, Turkey)

Credit to Be Madrid. Enjoying a night with Cara,  new friend Nick (Exchange student from Indiana, USA), Joshua and new friend Deniz ( Erasmus Exchange from Bilkent Üniversitesi, Ankara, Turkey)

As the month comes to the end, I am sure the semester will get busy, my advice to students is to enjoy the first couple of weeks before it gets super busy. That is all for now, I will be back soon to tell you about my adventures in Spain.

Hasta Luego

Gagan

 

Dealing with Exams and Hello, Goodbye

January is a hectic month for  an Erasmus student. After spending the Christmas break back home in the United Kingdom, it was time to hit reality and show the exams who was boss. What I liked about my exam timetable this semester was that it lasted only 8 days, and I prefer them to be done and over with, a lagging timetable seems never ending. However, the exam period did prove difficult as I was typically used to revising with my friends from Aston University and it felt unusual not having that company around me. The good thing though was that I had made friends at UC3M and I was able to revise with my UC3M friends.

My UC3M friends did warn me that the final exams were harder than the continuous assessments, but I had suspected this anyway as this tends to be the case. In terms of dealing with the exam stress, I thought I managed to keep it going well. For each person there is a different way of dealing with stress. For myself, going for a run or paying a visit to the gym helps me, and for others it could be watching TV, going for a walk, or even catching up with friends. What is important is that you find a way to deal with stress, otherwise it may make you forget some of the content you have been going over and it is not worth it.

The completion of exams marked the end of the first semester, which means there was going to be arrivals of new exchange students. However this also meant I would be saying goodbye to students who were returning back to their home countries for either completing their final semester or would be pursing with an internship, like my friend Krystal Gill, but fortunately I will be seeing her in my final year at Aston. So far the opportunity of meeting people from different countries has been eye opening. I have learnt so much about other cultures and it just wants me to keep on learning more. Italians usually greet each other with a kiss on both sides of a cheek, Spaniards prefer to eat dinner later in the evening. Non-Europeans like to do as much travelling in Europe as they can as it proves expensive to make individual trips to European countries from their home countries.

I look forward to interacting with new exchange students in the upcoming semester. Below are several photos with the people who made Semester 1 an enjoyable experience. Good luck with your degrees and remember to study hard!

Gagan D S Grewal

Saying hello to Isabella DiPhilippo. She is my new flatmate, an exchange student from The University Of Maine, United States.

Say hello to Isabella DiPhilippo. She is my new flatmate, an exchange student from The University Of Maine, United States.

One of the study zones in the library at Universidad Carlos 3, Madrid.

One of the study zones in the library at Universidad Carlos 3, Madrid (UC3M)

With fellow Astoner-UC3M Krystal Gill on her birthday. She will be pursing an internship in London. Definately one of the reasons my stay in Madrid was more enjoyable

With fellow Astoner-UC3M Krystal Gill on her birthday. She will be pursuing an internship in London. Definitely one of the reasons my stay in Madrid was more enjoyable

Celebrating the end of exams and Krystal Gill's birthday weekend with Joshua Kandola, Erasmus exchange from University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Celebrating the end of exams and Krystal Gill’s birthday weekend with Joshua Kandola, Erasmus exchange from University of Sheffield, United Kingdom; Cara Kennedy, Erasmus exchange from Trinity College, Dublin; and Krystal Gill, Erasmus exchange from Aston University, Birmingham.

Saying goodbye to Alessia Giaume, an exchange student from Bocconi University, Milan. We studied the demanding Econometric Techniques together.

Saying goodbye to Alessia Giaume, an exchange student from Bocconi University, Milan. We studied the demanding Econometric Techniques together.

Saying goodbye to my Flatmates Jorge García Escribano, who has taken an alternative programme at another Spanish University; and Valentina Crenna, an erasmus exhange from Bocconi University, Milan.

Saying goodbye to my Flatmates Jorge García Escribano, who has taken an alternative programme at another Spanish University; and Valentina Crenna, an erasmus exhange from Bocconi University, Milan.