The selection and commencement of your choice of university can be a daunting prospect. There are so many institutions available, and there’s so much to organize on top of the usual domestic and career commitments.
Add the unprecedented demands of dealing with the current pandemic and it might start to feel overwhelming. We spoke to Pablo Ortega, who has recently begun a Bachelor in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence at IE University, to hear about his experience of the process and his early impressions of life at the Segovia campus.
Before joining the IE community, I didn’t know much about the university. I had heard that it had a nice environment and was recognized around the world, but that was about it.
When I started thinking about where I should study, I didn’t even consider IE University at first. Then, my friends and family began telling me more about it and, as time went on, I became increasingly convinced that I should study there.
When the pandemic happened, I decided to research how universities were managing with providing online classes, and I noticed that IE University was among the most experienced institutions out there. Further impressed by IE University’s focus on promoting entrepreneurship in all its programs, I finally made the decision to apply.
From my first interaction with IE University, I was overcome with a feeling of confidence. Right away, they assigned me an advisor to help deal with any doubts I had and to help me find out everything I needed to know about the university. As soon as I was accepted, I received a lot of welcome emails which contained plenty of interesting information. I was invited to log into Slack, which is a messaging application that allows you to meet all the people from your year. The Slack organizers had created several channels to help you look for roommates or to find out more about IEU Athletics, and so on. This helped me to meet and connect with others from my year, providing me with plenty of information and confidence as the year kicked off.
On my first day of class, after showing the reception my Health Passport and exploring the campus to see the Cave, the canteen, etc., I went to my classroom. It was quite different from what I expected. The first row of tables were separated by plastic panels to avoid physical contact between teachers and students. Then there was the large screen hanging on the wall, which was turned on so other students could attend virtually. They were able to see what was happening thanks to a small camera, and there were microphones suspended in the middle of the class by a thin cable to help with audio.
As anyone who decides to study here will know, IE University students come from all over the world. I had never imagined sharing class with people from Poland, Georgia, Morocco and India, to name a few countries. It is particularly special for me as my whole life I’ve only studied alongside other Spaniards, and being part of a more diverse group is simply unbelievable.
In this first month of class, I have already seen how applicable the lessons from every subject are. The methodology is different from what I’m used to, where we would have class and then go home to study for a test the next day. Here, I take part in a lot of individual and group projects where we have to discuss topics together and research on the Internet. This is only possible with non-class learning.
Instead of going to class or having virtual meetings, non-class learning is when the teacher assigns work with varying deadlines. Generally speaking, it consists of exercises about whatever topic we are working on, whether it be readings about the subject or a group project. It requires more willpower than going to class because you have to take the initiative and do it on your own. That said, I think it is better than simply memorizing large chunks of theory. I think that it’s more helpful than more traditional studying in most cases and it better reflects what we’ll be faced with when we finish the program.
I have to say that, after my first month at IE University, I am extremely impressed with everything from the people and classroom environment to the campus itself. When most people think about new experiences, it’s generally accompanied by a certain amount of shyness as so much of it is new. However, that didn’t happen in the same way here. From the start, I have felt supported and properly prepared for every step. I’m confident that the coming years will be hugely important, not just with regard to my career but with regard to my life as a whole.