Hello! I am Lauma Elza Miezīte MSc European Forestry second-year student from Latvia and now is the time for me to tell you about my studies at my second-year university – the University of Lleida (UdL).
I remember the time when I had to make a decision about which will be my second-year university, I was confused, worried, and not sure what would be the best option. Now I can say that I am happy with my choice, University of Lleida has met my expectations, I am happy and thankful for the chance to be here.
This study year started with the hope of face-to-face classes and fieldtrips. However, we managed to have only some field trips and some classes before things were moved online. I am not the biggest fan of online classes, therefore, from the very beginning I was worried, how is it going to be? Right now, I can say that the University of Lleida knows how to move online and still keep things good and interesting. Of course, I missed seeing my professors and colleagues to have this usual type of communication but I think in the end we all had to adapt to current conditions.
One of the main reasons why I choose UdL was their diversity of courses; I felt that I can really adjust my courses to my interests. My background is not in forestry but in environmental science; therefore I was thrilled that I could choose some courses that were related not only pure forestry but also to environmental science. In UdL teaching approach is very individual. I felt that professors cared about us and tried to explain everything in the best way and I felt comfortable asking questions. I think here I have experienced the freest communication with professors. I enjoyed that most of my courses had a practical approach. I learn things better through practical assignments. In the last semester, I had various great practical assignments, starting from analyzing land-use changes near a city in Kazakhstan, learning to plan a drone flight to modelling forest dynamics and many more. I really enjoyed the last one because it usually had a quite free approach, the professor gave us a model and main guidelines but we could choose what exactly we want to do. For example, what forest management to apply and when. The Autumn semester was very intense, but worth it, at least for me. I learned a lot, changed my perspective on things; and in addition, my interests changed a bit too.
Thankfully, before the Covid-19 situation worsened we were able to participate in a few field trips. The first one was to the Pyrenees mountains. This was my first in those mountains, I was really impressed and enjoyed what I saw. We also went on some trips to familiarize ourselves with traditional landscapes and how they are changing. One of the reasons why I came to study in Spain was curiosity, I wanted to get familiar with completely different landscapes that I am used to. One of our trips was a bike trip, in addition to great landscapes I really enjoyed seeing local goods on our way. For example, I had never before seen olive and almond trees with fruits. A funny moment was when we discovered Strawberry trees (yes, you heard me right… it is called a Strawberry tree) and their fruits. I tried them for the first time in my life and absolutely loved them. We might have gotten a bit stuck near those trees and at one point professor started to wonder where were we.
Apart from my studies, I wanted to talk about my life in Lleida. When I moved to Lleida I had already lived in Catalonia (Spain) for 3 months, therefore, things were not completely new to me. I was familiar with some local culture and lifestyle. However, I get to experience new climatic conditions. I am coming from a country with proper winter, this was going to be my first year without it. At first, till maybe mid-November I was completely enjoying it. No need for winter jackets and big boots seemed perfect. But then Christmas time came, seeing Christmas lights in trees with leaves just felt wrong and I ended up missing winter. Never before I thought, I would say that.
In addition, I still had some problems with language, but with help of my friends and some support from the university, I could manage everything. In university, I also took a basic Spanish language course, and now I can proudly say that I can survive daily life situations with my knowledge. Finding an apartment in Lleida was a bit more difficult than in Barcelona. I would definitely recommend to start looking at least 2 months before. If in Barcelona it took me 3 or 4 days in Lleida it was around 2 weeks. Some of my friends from the program had some problems and had to find a room in a few days, it was possible but quite hard and standards had to be lowered.
To sum up, I can say that so far I have had a great experience in Spain and the University of Lleida. I have enjoyed my time here and learned a lot. Of course, not everything was fun and easy. For university, we had to work quite a lot and with the Covid-19 situation, things were quite complicated. There were moments when we were not allowed to leave Lleida, sometimes I struggled missing my friends, family, or just somebody to speak in my language. Once in a while I missed the landscapes I am used to. However, in the end, I think it is part of what studying abroad means. Overall, I am really happy with this master’s program and how it has changed my life.
I hope this post helped to get a glimpse of my studies at the University of Lleida. I have attached some pictures of nature and us. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on my personal email: email@example.com. 🙂