College Life - Spain vs. U.S.
Wired News has an article about a "virtual exchange" of university students at MIT in Massachusetts and Universidad Politï¿½cnica in Valencia, Spain.
College Kids: A Day in the Life
At the Universidad Politï¿½cnica de Valencia in Spain, students play fï¿½tbol, dance at discotecas and live in apartments or at home with their families.
Thousands of miles away, students at MIT in Boston build robots, play football and go to fraternity parties.
A university-sponsored online community gives students from both places a virtual glimpse into college life abroad -- from complex lab experiments to volunteer work, sports and social events.
"Students who aren't aware of what universities are like outside of the U.S. often assume everything is the same," said Douglas Morgenstern, a senior lecturer in Spanish foreign languages and literatures at MIT.
The site, MITUPV, unites students from MIT and the Universidad Politï¿½cnica de Valencia to exchange views about cultural differences while honing their language skills.
Students shape the direction of the site, said Morgenstern, who is also the project's director. They meet and collaborate in chat rooms and online forums to share ideas, videos, music and images. The idea is to encourage everyone who uses the site to learn from each other.
"We're trying to form a new paradigm of how people exchange educational and cultural information over the Web," Morgenstern said. "It's an open community in that students and teachers are essentially on the same level."
"The site has shown me the drastic difference in the lives of UPV students and MIT students, but also the many similarities there are between college students everywhere, even in different countries," said MIT student Patrick Hart. "Students create all of the content, so we really determine what we want the website to be."
One of the major differences in lifestyles here in Spain and back home is college life. It's a major gap when I'm trying to relate to people here because it's sooo different. Everything we do in the U.S. is considered "only in the movies" here in Spain. Dorms, NCAA-monster football schools, schools with 80,000 students, frats, false-Ids to drink, etc. is all well outside the norm here.
The thing that blows my mind is that lack of dorms... if I had to live with my parents after I left High School, we would have killed each other. But it's still pretty typical here to live with your parents until you're well into your 20s or even 30s and can buy (not rent! never!) your own house. The last job I had, a guy who was a year or so older than me was JUST moving out of his parent's house, down the block to his own place. He was a developer just like me, but living a life completely different. Not bad, just different.
Man, when Alex hits 18, he's on a plane to the farthest destination I can send him. That's the just the way it ought to be. A couple of cold winters studying in Cambridge (Harvard ;-) ) will give him a good taste of life. :-)