Emi Takimoto is a second-year student of the Dual Degree in Business Administration + Laws at IE University. Having spent most of her upbringing in Singapore, Emi opted to move to Europe and chose IE University largely because of the opportunity to study a dual degree. Like many high school students, she wasn’t 100% sure which field she wanted to work in, so the flexibility of studying a dual degree was the obvious choice.

How do you feel so far about IE University and about your program?

I really like IE University and the whole university student life experience in Madrid. Unlike the typical student experience in a UK or US university, I have my own apartment off-campus and am able to live my own life outside of school. I think that investing in this type of experience from a young age is important, because it ensures a smoother transition after you graduate. I’m also really loving my program so far, because it helped me find a passion I didn’t know I had: legal studies. 

Is the experience of studying in Spain—and at IE University—living up to your expectations?

I’ve spent my entire life in Asia, so coming to Spain has been a completely different lifestyle and cultural experience. The lifestyle in Europe is so different from what I’ve always known, and I’ve had to adapt to it very quickly.

Luckily, my international background—I’m half-Japanese, half-Romanian—and open-minded nature have facilitated this transition. That is why I want to support new students going through this daunting process by helping them with recommendations and tips for studying at IE University.

We’ll get to that in a minute, but first… What’s your favorite thing about living in Madrid?

I love the nightlife! Not only is it loads of fun, but there are things to do all week long and not only on weekends. It has allowed me to strengthen my ability to balance my life and learn more discipline when it comes to saying “no” to going out when I need to focus on my school work. It’s easy for 20-year-olds to get caught up in all the fun and partying, but it actually taught me a lot about myself as an individual and in a social setting. 

What are some of your favorite spots to hangout at IE Tower?

The little cafés on the 10th and 16th floors are the best. I usually run into lots of people I know there, but they’re such calm and open spaces. I also love the new mall that recently opened downstairs. We didn’t have anything like that in our first year and it’s been really amazing.

So, about those recommendations you had mentioned. What should every future IE University student know about studying in Madrid?

First, expect to learn many life lessons. Student life involves figuring out how to manage your money, balance your work life and what’s best for your health. There will be many challenging moments as you go through these life lessons and make certain choices.

Second, don’t be afraid to speak Spanish. It’s the only way to learn! Studying it before arriving in Spain would be very helpful—even if it’s just the basics so that you can get around the city more easily. Of course, the more you practice, the more you’ll learn.

Third, put yourself first. University life can be hard—and it comes with a lot of external pressure. Invest your time learning about yourself before saying yes to others.