BY PHOENIX LITTLE
MINOR: Hispanic Studies
UNIVERSITY: East Carolina University
“I came on this trip to improve my Spanish speaking skills and confidence and I gained more life experience than I ever could have imagined. I made friends and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. “
Studying abroad is a challenging experience. There is nothing that can truly prepare you for the experience you are going to have while studying abroad. Even though you can receive all the advice in the world, but the only thing that can even come close to helping you prepare is keeping an open mind! Before coming on this trip, I thought that I was prepared for any and everything, but I quickly found out that I was wrong in all of the best ways. If you want to know “why” keep reading this shortlist of 5 misconceptions I had when I decided to study abroad in Spain.
1. Living in a host family
My first new experience was living with a host mother. Living with a host family was one of the things that I was the most nervous about, and it has honestly become one of my favorite parts of this trip. My host mom Maribel was one of the most kind and considerate people that I have had the privilege of knowing. From day one I was welcomed with open arms and she truly became like a mother to me over the month of my stay. We spent many afternoons talking in Spanish (to the best of my ability) and watching different television shows. She was one of the main influences that helped improve my Spanish because she was always patient and ready to help. Upon learning that I wanted some extra practice she even took the time to allow me to read to her in Spanish so that I would have an easy way to practice my pronunciation and oral skills.
2. The cost of “living”
In addition to the aforementioned perks of living with a host family, something that is often overlooked is the convenience of staying with a host family. In addition to having all of your laundry done for you, you have all of your meals cooked while you are available to eat them. Not only are the meals very filling and another important way for you to be immersed in Spanish culture, but it is also very good for your wallet!
Before I arrived in Spain, I was prepared to have to be frugal but was pleasantly surprised by how affordable everything was once I arrived at my homestay in Granada. From clothing to meals and souvenirs, as long as you are prepared to walk and look for the places frequented by locals, you are always sure to find a good deal.
3. Taking classes
The classes in this study abroad experience were surprisingly thorough. I didn’t really know what to expect as I was only really told about the adventure part of this study abroad, but I was greeted with rich coursework that gave an in-depth look into aspects of Spanish culture that helped me exercise my language skills and familiarize myself with the culture and country I stayed in.
4. The excursions
This adventure allowed me to visit parts of Spain that I had never even heard of. The beauty of the white mountain towns, rocky beaches, and booming metropolitan areas not only uncovered a love of Andalusia in me but also a desire to continue traveling and seeing more of what the world has to offer.
The numerous excursions offered by Educatrip and the school do a comprehensive job of showing you many aspects of Spanish culture and history firsthand. Without a doubt, the excursions to different cities were my favorite aspects of my study abroad experience! It was amazing to see the differences in culture, lifestyle, and people at each location and surprisingly, it also told me a lot about myself and what aspects of life and exploration I have a passion for.
5. Having my life changed
I feel like the most common commentary on study abroad you can get is that “studying abroad will change your life”. I heard it from friends and teachers and family members, but honestly I never really believed anyone. I thought it would be like every other summer program that was marketed to “change lives,” I would enjoy my time up until the end of the honeymoon phase, and then I would be drained and ready to come home, but I have never been more wrong!!
With every new day came a new adventure and a new experience, and I gained life experience and grew as a person in ways that I could never imagine. I came on this trip to improve my Spanish speaking skills and confidence in myself. I made friends and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. This trip unlocked a drive in me that I didn’t realize I had.