When a new student from abroad comes
to the University of Barcelona, my main aim as a buddy is to help them to get
involved in different activities in order to get to know more about the
culture of our country. It is important to understand that the meaning of
engagement is the opposite one to simple observation. Engagement means not only
to comprehend differences between unlike cultures but also to participate in
them as well as to manage possible
uncertainty. Thus, my objective is that through the collaboration between
buddies and incomers, there are more possibilities to achieve this engagement.
A clear example that could help
foreigners to be integrated in traditional catalan activities is to take part
of “la colla castellera” of the university itself. “Els castellers” or human
towers is a catalan tradition which consists on constructing towers with real
people – it can be considered a folk extreme sport. There is a team at the
university which a lot of exchange students decide to join to feel the solidarity,
supportive and team spirit essential to this catalan tradition. For more
information visit: https://www.thelocal.es/20190729/els-castells-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-human-towers-of-catalonia.
However, if you are not risk-taking
sports person, another good option to explore more about the catalan culture is
to find a way to reduce language barriers. Thus, international students can
take Catalan courses offered by the university with a discount for them. Even
if they speak Spanish or they consider they can be easily understood in
English, it is always recommended to learn the language spoken in the region so
they can take part of conversations between local people. Courses adapted to the short
period of time exchange students spend in the country are offered in the
following link: https://www.ub.edu/sl/en/fl/segonsem.html. Moreover, in the following link
students can enrol to informal conversation sessions with local people: https://www.ub.edu/sl/borsa/.
Finally, if they want to further practice the language, it
will always be helpful to try to be in teams for class assignments formed by
local students and not only by other exchange students. It is the best way in
order to understand which is the work system in their new university for both
the undergraduates and the teachers and find out the perfect balance between
their own methodology and the local one.