Undergraduate students in the School of Classics do not necessarily have to spend all three years of their degree based in Lampeter. They have the option of spending a semester abroad at one of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s partner institutions in the USA, Canada, Italy, or Spain. Third year BA Classics student Sofia Bianchi Mancini tells us about her experiences in Tarragona last semester:
Tarragona is a small town on the sea, located near Barcelona. The University of Tarragona Rovira I Virgili has three main campuses – I was based on Campus Catalunya for Classics, Ancient History, and Archaeology. The University also houses the institute ICAC – Institut Català d’Arquelogia Clàssica or Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology – which is one of the best Spanish archaeological institutes. It is dedicated to archaeological research, excavations, and publication of material. The library for the faculty of Classics, also on Campus Catalunya, is really good and it provides students with lots of useful books and other sources, and Tarragona also has a very good public library.
Tarragona is a Roman town and is full of Roman ruins. For this reason lecturers are really passionate about Roman philology and archaeology. They teach these subjects very well, and they organize conferences devoted to Roman studies. In May, archaeology lecturers from the University and other experts organize the Roman festival Tarraco Viva, a free temporary exposition of Roman customs and daily life. There is also the local archaeological museum, and the one in Barcelona, not too far away. During my time in Tarragona, we visited not only these two museums, but also an archaeological laboratory where they taught us how experts restore ancient objects such as plates, vases and statues.
At the University, most of the courses are worth six credits; this means that in order to get the exact credits to pass the first or second semester abroad you have to take approximately six courses. You can choose the modules not only from the faculty of Classics, but also from the faculty of Ancient History and Archaeology. Courses are mostly taught in Catalan (Tarragona is part of Catalonia and people prefer to speak using this dialect rather than Spanish Castellan), and while Catalan may seem hard to understand at first, students and lecturers always help you when you have a problem with it.
Work is mostly structured in the same way as at UWTSD. For mythology and Greek and Latin literature and language you have to write essays and commentaries, while for those subjects oriented towards archaeology you have to dedicate yourself to the writing of book or article reviews and to creating projects in a group. Students are always nice to those on the Erasmus exchange because they know that at the beginning attempting to speak in another language is hard. Assignments have to be submitted via Moodle; this works in the same way as the one at UWTSD. Students, once enrolled in the first or second semester, can find all their chosen courses and appropriate discussion forums there. The University also provides students with an Erasmus students’ organization group, which is always very friendly and helps you to get to know other people and take part in activities.
I would highly recommend the University Rovira I Virgili for the quality of teaching, lecturers, and the opportunity to study other subjects. The Erasmus exchange period has definitely changed me, allowing me to learn a language that I had never studied before as well as discovering subjects that I would like to study further in a Master’s course. I also recommend going to Tarragona because it is an opportunity to take on new challenges.