For my exchange semester, I attended the Universidad de Navarra (UNAV), a private university in Pamplona, Navarra. The Universidad de Navarra is a reputed university throughout Spain, especially known for IESE, its MBA program at a satellite location in Madrid. When I first got my acceptance to UNAV, I actually thought that I would be studying at IESE in Madrid…boy was wrong! Pamplona is about five hours north of Madrid and the economics program at UNAV is really different from an MBA program.
I have to admit, before the term started, I was dreading my last semester of university away from Western and my friends. I was nervous about making new friends and being in a new country, but I’m so glad I took the chance and moved to Spain. Studying at UNAV had its ups and downs, but overall, it was the right decision and a great way to end off my university experience.
UNAV’s campus was really beautiful, reminding me of a modern paradise located in a valley and surrounded by mountains. I spent most of my time in the new “Amigos” building which housed the economics faculty.
For the first half of the semester, I studied in the breakout rooms and for the second half of the semester, I studied in the building’s open space with shared tables, a.k.a. the white tables. The white tables became a meeting place for my friends and me. Despite being less productive, I enjoyed studying with other people.
While most of the building at UNAV were very modern, the central building (pictured above) was different. It was an older, light blue-grey building with a courtyard in the middle. Inside the building, there were marble statues which I admired every time I headed to my Worldviews and Ethics class.
While I was at UNAV, I took six courses: International Finance, Marketing II, Worldviews and Ethics, Classical Characters in Literature, Fashion and Communication, and Health Economics.
Favourite Classes: Classical Characters
My motivation for taking Classical Characters in Literature was that it would give me a chance to read. After years of reading only economics textbooks and business cases, taking literature was refreshing. I got to read many famous short stories, as well as Frankenstein and To Kill a Mockingbird. My favourite read was a short story entitled “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin. I also loved the discussions we had in class. Because our prof was so open to ideas and valued everyone’s contributions, she really created a safe and comfortable environment for student participation.
Most Different Class: Worldviews and Ethics
Worldviews and Ethics was a class taught by a priest. UNAV has strong Catholic affiliations because it is run by the Opus Dei, a Catholic organization. The class walked us through the different philosophies/philosophers and religions, including Aristotle, Buddhism, Stoicism, Islam, Individualism, and Mounier. I enjoyed learning about the different worldviews and my professor never inflicted his own biases during classes. He was open to discussions and very helpful when it came to answering questions. The content was not challenging and I liked that the course evaluation only consisted of two exams and participation. I never felt stressed about the course and enjoyed my learning experience.
Class that Defied Expectations: Health Economics and Fashion and Communication
A class that really exceeded my expectations was Health Economics. Due to a scheduling issue, I signed up for Health Economics during the add-drop period. I had no interest in the course and only took it because it fit well in my timetable. During my first class, our professor used graphs and economics theory to map out risk profiles and explain insurance buyer behaviour. By the end of the term, we were talking about moral hazard in the health care system, as well as various levels of health care coverage around the world. Overall, the course was interesting and I was happy to be able to apply something as theoretical as microeconomics to something as tangible as healthcare.
I took fashion and communication because I hadn’t studied fashion before and was hoping to learn something new. My professor never taught a single class which really surprised me; I would’ve loved to hear about her background in the fashion industry. The class also consisted of a series of guest speakers who came to talk to us about their experience in fashion.
Most Challenging Classes: Marketing II and International Finance
International Finance was probably the most difficult and content-heavy class I took at UNAV. Our professor went to school in NYC and his teaching style was similar to that of professors at Western, my home school. A lot of the topics were more econ-based rather than finance (phew). The class really challenged me. For example, on the surface, I understood exchange rates and purchasing parities, but the class went in depth on the most basic topics. This class took the most time when it came to studying for exams and completing assignments.
Marketing II was another challenging class because projects in the class were based on case competitions. This made the grading system very uncertain because expectations of the judges differed from expectations set in class. It was hard to know where we stood in the class.
My last exam, Worldviews and Ethics, took place on May 8th, marking the end of undergrad. Not being a student anymore was and still is the weirdest feeling. I can’t believe I’m not going back to Western in September. I’m going to miss it so much.