Guide for Attending a Spanish University

From how to dress, how you take your in-between-class breaks, to the best gelato place to go after class, Samantha Ludes guides you how to navigate a Spanish university, as she attends the Universidad Pontificia Comillas for a semester on the Student Exchange Program.

I wish there had been a “How To” guide to attending a university in Spain, but since there is not, I decided to make my own. Everything from the clothes you wear to using graph paper instead of lined paper, there is a laundry list of differences.

I am studying at Universidad Pontificia Comillas ICADE, a business school in the heart of Madrid, Spain on Fisher’s Student Exchange Program. The school itself is beautiful. The Church inside the school and the tiled blue walls make me feel as if I am not at school at all.

I take classes ranging from Planificación y Gestión de Marketing (Marketing Planning and Management) to Spanish Culture Through Visual Arts. Most of my classes are primarily international students except for my Marketing course. It has been very beneficial to take classes with Spanish students since I have learned so much about the culture, the slang, and what university is like in Spain.

The first thing I learned is that students do not eat in classes, that is considered very rude. They do, however, talk during class. At least in my experience, students will talk to friends and be very casual in front of the teachers. Professors here are also more informal, talking about what good places students should go to, and not minding when students show up 20 minutes late to class, especially on Mondays.

Coffee breaks are apart of everyone’s everyday schedule. Before or after class, we will often go grab a coffee at a local cafe near school. My personal favorite is to go to UVEPAN because all of the staff are so friendly and love when I practice my Spanish with them. PRO TIP: If it is Monday then go to McDonald’s (which are a lot nicer in Spain) and get FREE coffee. All you have to do is ask for it!

People stand outside the building and catch up for a while after class with friends. Standing on those steps I have planned weekend trips, dinner plans, and laughed about stories from the previous week. I have met with group project members to discuss our assignments and scheduled our next meetings. In the states, I tend to go to class and then straight to whatever I had planned next. Here they take their time, plan a lot less, and chat a lot more. In my attempt to blend in, I have had to adjust how I present myself in class. I went from dressing very casually, typically in my workout clothes and my backpack, to wearing jeans, a sweater, and boots or sneakers with my purse. People dress as if they are going out to dinner but instead it is just for class. To my surprise, I have actually enjoyed getting ready like that everyday (probably because the shopping is so great here) but nonetheless, it has been an adjustment.

Going to a university in Spain may be very different from going to Ohio State, but different is not always bad. Getting lost in this small (but VERY confusing) building has led me to meet Spanish students who studied at Ohio State for their abroad experience. I approached a group of students in the cafe and asked if one of them could show me where the bookstore was. A few of them offered to walk me there and were telling me about where they studied in the US. It was the craziest coincidence when one of the students told me he studied at Ohio State. We talked about our business classes and football (of course) and how we missed the deep love for all things OSU. Talking with him about being a Buckeye made this new place feel a little more like home.

Another perk of going to Comillas is the gelato shop La Romana right down the street. If you like gelato, you will LOVE this.  The people at the counter will let you try almost every flavor, ranging from the classic Pistachio to Biscotto. I get a new flavor almost every time I go because they’re all so delicious that I can’t even pick a favorite! You must go in there and ask for a “muestra” (sample) and you will understand what I am talking about.

As always, Go Bucks!


Well, this is it.

The end of the Dubai trip. The end of the Rise General Trading project. The end of my MBA program. Everything culminated in one day.

As I walked out the doors of the offices, I was keenly conscious of the fact that I hadn’t just finished a presentation; I had, indeed, finished an entire chapted of my life. Frankly, the whole thing felt anticlimactic and left me reflective and melancholy.

I will say this: Every MBA student should have such an experience. This project was truly a capstone of two years of MBA coursework. Our team had our stubborn moments and moments when we weren’t sure where the project was heading next, but overall, we laughed while working hard and produced something we are proud to leave behind for Rise to use.



Water water everywhere!!!

We just got back from Cologne after wrapping up our final review session with the client. This is it guys… tomorrow is the D-day (So glad we are done before my birthday!!). We have traveled a lot during this trip, some days coming back to Koblenz to only sleep! Like our client mentioned today “it was like you guys were put in a dishwasher or dryer and rotated”! But we had a jolly good time!!!

No matter what Rick Steves has to say we are in love with our Koblenz; a quaint little European town with numerous town squares, historic statues and the river by our apartment. It is fascinating to see the cuisine variety we here. I came across three Indian restaurants near a single square! But what I loved the most about Kolblenz were the fountains.

Most of us from team Germany have forgotten the taste of still water (much to Devin’s dismay). Whenever you ask for water here it is normal to be served “wasser mit gas” (water with gas) so we (by we I mean only Devin) have to specially mention “wasser no gas” or still. There is not free water/tap water concept here!! Even though it is completely safe to drink tap water Germans don’t offer it; the word for tap water is “leitungswasser” which converts as plumbing water, sooo offering plumbing water is a no no!! So, where does all of Devin’s water go in Koblenz… the fountains!!!

The most famous one though is the Spitting Boy of Koblenz. We found that out the scary way. Imagine taking a late evening stroll and stopping to admire this statue and suddenly he starts spitting water (I think one of us even screamed!)

Spitting Boy!!!

The Spitting Boy is actually called Spitting John who represents all the bastard sons of invading French soldiers. This shows the town’s dislike for foreign authority.

More beautiful fountains:

The Koblenz Fountain: depicting its history
The Koblenz Fountain: depicting its history
Girl playing with ducks
Girl playing with ducks
Dancing Couples
Dancing Couples
Trying to figure out the strange take on Noah's arc!
Trying to figure out the strange take on Noah’s arc!

See… water water everywhere!!!

Now we get back to fine tuning our final presentation. FYI everyone is invited to the Wednesday night karaoke project ending/birthday party!


Want to relax? Visit Suzhou gardens!

As you know, my team has been in Shanghai for about a couple of weeks now and we wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. A couple of Shanghai locals advised us to visit Suzhou. It is a city in Jiangsu province and is famous for beautiful gardens and traditional waterside architecture.

The day of our visit however started out to be disappointing! We were denied train tickets to Suzhou because we did not have passports with us. So, we ended up taking an hour and half long bus ride to get to Suzhou. When we were struggling with directions with a map (Chinese version) in our hands, a Suzhou local came to our rescue. He directed us to take a stroll along this waterside street, supposedly a very popular tourist attraction, which eventually led us to the Humble Administrator’s Garden.

I have captured some interesting moments encountered along the way…

Dim Sum assortment – 2 Yuan each

Dim Sum1

Dim Sum 2 Dim Sum 3


The waterfront houses

waterfront houses

The Gondola ride

Gondola 1Gondoal 2


Have a cup of Jasmine Tea

Jasmine TeaTea




Gift store

Gift Store

All this fun just on the way to the gardens. Once inside the gardens, I was astounded by the peace and serenity of the place. It was a great spiritual experience!

Here are a few jewels of traditional Chinese architecture

bridge gaden 4 garden 2 garden 3 garden 4 garden gazebo 3 Tradtional Arch 1


With my friends Melissa and Dilyana

 With Melissawith Dilyana

We ended up reaching Shanghai around 10 pm after a great day in Suzhou.


Day 5: Tea time with Dan


Yes, that tiny little glass about the same size as the tea candle is what I am supposed to drink out of, somehow.


I thought it would be nice to give Melissa, who has been doing an excellent job with our team’s blog, a break for a day and would write a bit about my day instead.  Day 5 in Malaysia started much the same as most of my days here.  Waking up early and heading down to the hotel’s pool in order to get my daily Pelotonia training in.  Since the local roads and traffic habits don’t particularly lend themselves to cycling around, a morning swim is going to need to do for now.  After my swim I grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then we loaded into the shuttle bus, and went into the office for the day.

Our hosts at WD have been most generous during our trip, and have been extremely helpful.  Today we had a nice discussion over lunch with the VP in charge of materials for Asia, who offered some experienced based insights into some of the challenges that we are facing.  After a busy day at the office working on our project, we once again loaded into the van, and zipped through traffic back to the hotel.

We decided to head back to the Sunway Pyramid mall for dinner tonight, as the variety of options available there is for practical purposes, limitless.  We chose a local tea house and Chinese food establishment called the “Paradise Inn”, after comparing the menu’s of several nearby restaurants.  The one problem I have found thus far with food in Malaysia is that it pretty much all looks delicious, and it is usually hard to decide what exactly I want to order.  It is also, generally speaking, very reasonably priced.  I eventually chose a beef and onion hot pot meal, along with Oolong tea, and a mango based desert.  As with every local meal I have had thus far, I was not disappointed in my choice.

Food here is inexpensive (not cheap), and delicious. A meal like this costs around 30 Malaysian Ringits, somewhere around $8-9 USD, depending on what exactly is ordered.

As Melissa mentioned in a previous post they take their shopping malls very seriously here in Malaysia, with a wide variety of experiences available under one roof that you generally don’t find in America.  One of these experiences at the Sunway mall is an indoor archery range, which is across the way from the Mui Thai gym, and bowling alley, and nestled next to a jewelry store.  I wasn’t about to let such a unique experience pass me, or my team by, so after dinner we headed up for some relaxation/archery practice to top off the evening.

There was no way that I was going to pass up a chance to get some team archery practice in at the mall.


We then made our way back to the hotel so that we can prepare for another full day of amazing experiences tomorrow, before we fly to Singapore on Saturday.  With so many new and different things to experience, one could easily become distracted and lose focus during a trip like this, but thankfully my team continues to do an excellent job of staying on target.

Staying focused on the target is a key part of a successful project.


Hitting the Ground Running

Today was our first official day at the Volcano HQ site in Brussels. We were ready to get to work!

Entering Volcano HQ
Entering Volcano HQ

They had a special welcome for us inside.

OSU Welcome!


I was happy to be the official photographer, but the team insisted I be in at least one picture:


Everyone at Volcano was fantastic; they set us up with everything we needed, including a HUGE conference room for us to work in.

team room

We were very excited to get to work, and were warmly welcomed by all. Our client gave us an overview of the company as well as a tour, so we got to meet the very internationally-diverse (and super friendly!) Volcano Europe team – in addition to Brussels, we met people from Netherlands, France, Indonesia, Venezuela, Germany, Lebanon, Jordan and others!

After a hard day at work, we headed back to the apartment, only to face the Brussels afternoon traffic. Can you spot how many red lights are in the picture? Yes, they were as endless as they looked!


After parking the car and changing into more comfortable attire, we headed out for a walk to find someplace to eat and found this!



In case you missed the sign, here’s a close up:


There was no one there for us to try to see if Professor Dial’s divulgence of the MBA handshake of Crown, Cork and Seal would gain us entry into the club.

It was a great first day at Volcano and we had fun exploring in Brussels afterward. Now if only we could get over this jet lag…



Mumbai Day 2

It’s the morning of Day 2 and there is already excited anticipation of our full team arriving tonight. Although Team Wonderkids is not complete, we did take advantage of a day in the city.

Here’s what we learned on Day 1:

1) Street signals are meaningless

2) Little kids are persistent when trying to snag a free soda

3) Starbucks is indeed everywhere
India - Starbucks