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Sunday, May 29, 2011
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What do you think about the demand to get rid of corrupt politicians and make the banks and bankers pay for their errors and greed which have made so many people's lives change in oh so many ways?
Friday, May 20, 2011
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Thursday, May 19, 2011
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011
THE POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY OF VALENCIA IN GANDIA
One of the problems for anyone thinking of higher education in Spain, whether for themselves or their children is: where to go? After all, it is never easy to find somewhere that combines a user-friendly campus with degree courses that are going to be genuinely useful.
Interestingly, the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Polytechnic University of Valencia) has a campus at Gandia – which I suspect, may be the answer to many students’ prayers. I say this because some main university campuses in Spain are vast and can really daunt students (at least new ones). This can make the step from school to university an unsustainable leap.
To some extent this is true of the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Valencia city. Based around an enormous (and very fine) campus in Valencia city, the University has some 30,000 students! It is almost a town in its own right and was, sadly, far too intimidating for my own son when he started a degree course there three years ago.
Matters are certainly not helped for the timid or shy when undertaking university education in Spain because Spanish universities do not have a tutorial system like in the UK or the US. This can mean that the tuition provided can be largely restricted to lectures and brief, defined times when a student has access, on his own, to see a given tutor. So, the system does not naturally provide the mentoring (let alone the group mentoring) that young students invariably need.
All of this means that the choice of university in Spain within which to study is vitally important. Certainly, for my son the answer was to attend a smaller campus – and this is something worthy of consideration for anyone thinking of studying in Spain.
AUDITORIUM GANDIA CAMPUS OF THE POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY OF VALENCIA
By sheer good luck the Polytechnic University of Valencia close to me has a campus at Gandia – which has hugely impressed both my son and myself. In some ways, it is the antipathy of the larger university campuses in Spain. There are only 2,000 students, based within a neat, new campus (inaugurated in 2001) that is wonderfully well placed close to the beaches and port of Gandia.
Importantly, the campus at Gandia is far from intimidating. Indeed, it has a friendly ambience and one that the professors themselves admit encourages a personal approach to the tuition of the courses – and thereby a more intimate relationship with students than is normally the case in Spain.
Certainly, my son has adapted well to the Gandia campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia and has been obtaining fine results that will enable him to go on a much encouraged (by the staff) Erasmus course next year.
The Polytechnic University of Valencia at Gandia has four degree (grado) courses, available to students, each of which last four years,:
- Audio Visual Communication
- Telecommunication systems
- Environmental studies
All four degrees are popular and the staff at Gandia are keen to point out that there is a natural synergy between the courses – which is helpful to both the students and teaching staff.
Needless to say, the Audio Visual Communication degree (the one being studied by my son) is extremely popular – with applicants for the course doubling year on year. Indeed, to get on the course, extremely high grades at Bachillerato and Selectivo are required. This is not surprising as this technical and demanding degree is highly applicable to working life and the media (including the Internet). It focuses on radio/TV, creativity, animation and interactive communications and has a passionately committed director in Antonio Forés López.
Meanwhile, the Polytechnic University of Valencia at Gandia is justifiably proud of its tourism degree (for which English is obligatory). The campus has a close relationship with numerous government institutions and local companies and therefore knows the tourism industry and its issues intimately.
Finally, the telecommunications systems and environmental degrees are nothing if not pertinent – given the technological revolution exploding within Spain and the many issues facing the country after its recent rampant and chaotic building boom.
UNIVERSIDAD POLITÉCNICA DE VALENCIA, GANDIA
Jordi Mauri is an impressive professor who specialises in business innovation at the Gandia campus and, taking me around the campus, he stressed the ethos of the University.
‘What we are proud of here is the environment that we have developed,’ Jordi said. ‘At Gandia we are always striving to make sure that what we teach is relevant and applicable to our students after they finish their studies. However, we also recognise that their time with us needs to be fun – whilst providing them with an opportunity to mature and develop in a positive way’.
Certainly, I was encouraged by the motto of the Gandia campus which is ‘Qualsevol Nit Pot Sortir El Sol’ – which is written large on one of the building walls. It is Valencian and, more or less, translates as ‘Every night ends with a new day’ – an optimistic, thoughtful and peculiarly endearing motto.
LIBRARY POLYTECHNIC UNIVERSITY OF VALENCIA GANDIA
Interestingly, the Gandia part of the Polytechnic University of Valencia is keen to encourage foreign students to come to the campus. At present, they have some 120 foreign students of whom 60 are Chinese who, I suspect, must delight in being on the campus.
After all some of the best beaches in Spain are five minutes walk away from the Gandia university campus, Gandia town is wonderful (by anyone’s standards) and the terrific city of Valencia is just a cheap 50 minute train ride. Meanwhile, the campus facilities are virtually brand new and the whole place is easy to navigate and has a pleasant, relaxed ambience.
The point, of course, is that for higher education in Spain to be effective (as in any other country) it needs to be done in the right environment – one that is user-friendly for students. To my mind, this is something that the Gandia campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia seems to have achieved. The facilities are good, the staff appear enthusiastic and proud of their campus and the atmosphere at the University is both businesslike and friendly.
So, if you are thinking of studying in Spain or undertaking higher education in Spain or have the possibility of an exchange or Erasmus course then you would be well advised to have a look at the Gandia campus of the Polytechnic University of Valencia. I think that you will be impressed.
EDUCATION IN SPAIN - NOT HARD WORK ALL THE TIME
Incidentally, at Gandia there are two masters courses available: post production and accoustics. Next year there will be a further masters course on social media – which just shows how up to date the university is!
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Valencia and horse riding
VALENCIA GLOBAL CHAMPIONS TOUR
I completely missed advising you about a terrific event that was due to occur at the Valencia City of Arts and Sciences during the weekend. This was all the more regrettable – because I had bookedup long before, went myself – and had a fantastic time!
During the weekend the Global Champions Tour was run beside the Valencia science museum. For those unfamiliar with the event, it is a show jumping competition that is held in 9 different countries and one that aims to provide ‘the best in showjumping’ with world class riders and horses.
VALENCIA HORSE RIDING
In fact, the Global Champions Tour is also notable for its prize money! Evidently, in 2010 the winner earnt half a million Euros in prize money. This gives you some idea of the supreme excellence of both the horses and riders involved. Mind you, I imagine that most of the prize money would been needed just to cover the vast costs involved in competing in 9 different countries with a world class horse…
In any event, the occasion was simply wonderful. Indeed, it would have been churlish of anyone not to have enjoyed a spectacularly well run event located in one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – and within the glorious City of Arts and Sciences.
Not only was it great to see world class horse riding in Valencia but, amazingly, it was also incredibly good value. Seats in the grandstand cost only 10 Euros – which beggars belief, frankly.
Of course, as I wrote recently, there are few places more exciting and awesomely beautiful than the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. When this is combined with a terrific show then you truly know that you are in for a treat.
Incidentally, the winner of this years Global Champions Tour grand prix in Valencia was the Irishman Billy Twomey – riding the appropriately named Je T’Aime Flamenco.
Anyway, if you are ‘into’ horses then I am almost certain that this type of horse riding in Valencia will occur again next year – in which case book up early and see a really superb competition in circumstances that could not be bettered!
Finally, as always, it was impossible not to try to capture some of the buildings within the Valencia City of Arts and Sciences and my son took this stunning picture just as the sun was finally disappearing.
CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES VALENCIA DUSK
What a breathtaking place…
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Spanish property, is it time to buy now?
VILLA FOR SALE COSTA BLANCA
So, the Spanish government is finally on a major push to get foreigners to buy Spanish property!
I keep reading about the ‘road show’ that is currently in the UK before it goes off to tour the rest of Europe to publicise the benefits of buying property in Spain. Clearly the Spanish government’s PR machine is working hard to publicise the event with the presence of Spain’s Housing Minister, Beatriz Corredor, an indication of how serious the government are.
This should not be surprising as something like 10% of all the properties bought during the boom years were purchased by foreigners. Indeed, there are now, supposedly, some 1 million Britons resident in Spain, all of whom will have contributed significantly to the Spanish economy.
Perhaps more to the point, as stated in a recent BBC article, is that some 1 in 5 jobs in Spain ‘were connnected to the property sector’ during the boom years – which just about mirrors the current unemployment figures in Spain of 21.3%. In other words, the collapse of the property market took with it at least 20% of the jobs available in Spain.
The trouble is that almost ever article that I have read about the Spanish government’s property roadshow has been hijacked by protesters who bought in Spain – and then found themselves in a nightmare. There are tales of illegal property and worthless bank guarantees and so on – none of which help Spain’s case.
Unfortunately, quite a lot of the horror stories about Spanish property are true. There is certainly no shortage of illegal properties or properties in Spain with inherent (and often very expensive liabilities). It is certainly not a place in which to buy carelessly and, despite the assertions of the housing minister, matters have not changed radically over the past few years to make matters noticeably safer.
That said, as I have written many times, I am constantly astonished by the lunatic actions of foreign buyers when they do come to Spain. It is unbeliveable how many people, for example, do not use a lawyer for their conveyancing – or, when they do, one who they know also works for the seller. This is just asking for trouble and is something they would never tolerate in their own countries under any circumstances.
Indeed, some of the Spanish property problems that I have seen (first-hand) appear to have been almost deliberately created by buyers during moments of what can only be kindly described as utter madness.
The truth is that you can buy safely in Spain – if you are careful and if you are sufficiently knowledgeable beforehand and if you treat Spanish property with the caution it deserves.
Spanish property certainly deserves to be treated with caution, as I emphasise in my book ‘How to Buy Spanish Property and Move to Spain – Safely’. Indeed, my watchword is to approach Spanish property as if it is illegal – and then get your specialist conveyancing lawyer to prove (in writing) that it is actually legal and has no possible liabilities. This is a reversal of the philosphy of the US or the UK but it is the right way to go.
As to now being the right time to buy Spanish property?
Well, yes – it probably is.
Although I believe that the market has a little further to drop there are such astonishing bargains available that (if you are careful) – really, you cannot go too far wrong price-wise. Just make sure that where and what you buy is right and that it is located somewhere that will be in long term demand by a significant and defined sector of the buying public (preferably Spanish and foreign).
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Sunday, May 08, 2011
Hopefully there will be many more to come just as positive.
The pain in Spain stays mainly with the jobless - Business Analysis & Features, Business - The Independent
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Saturday, May 07, 2011
Seve Ballesteros dies: Spanish golfer's condition deteriorated following treatment for brain tumour - Telegraph
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But will it work?
FT.com / Property & Mortgages - Spain’s attempt to woo back buyers starts in UK
In fact, the Spanish government says it is taking measures to increase transparency in the property market for foreign purchasers. It will be passing legislation in the coming weeks to make it obligatory for any processes that may render a house illegal to be publicly flagged in Spain’s property register. The register will also be available in English.
Thursday, May 05, 2011
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Sunday, May 01, 2011