Category Archives: Study-Abroad testimonies

5 COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT STUDYING ABROAD IN SPAIN

BY PHOENIX LITTLE

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DESTINATION: Granada

MAJOR: Neuroscience

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.

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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.

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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!!

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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.

MY JOURNEY ABROAD: SUMMER PROGRAM IN GRANADA

BY BRIANNA FOSTER

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Destination: Granada – Spain, June 2019

Major: Nursing

Minors: Hispanic Studies

University: East Carolina University

I always knew that I wanted to study abroad and after hearing about this program, I knew it was the one I wanted to go on!!

MY FIRST STEPS

The duration of the program was perfect for me and it was so nice that I could go over the summer. Getting six credits in one month was a really great opportunity that I couldn’t afford to pass up because of my upcoming schedule for nursing school. Aside from how well the program worked with my schedule, I also chose it cause I wanted to experience something new.

I loved the idea of being able to stay with a host family and immerse myself into the local culture. I knew that it was going to be great to have someone to practice my “español” every day. That is why could not wait to find out who my new host family was! When I finally got information about them, I got really excited. My host mom and her daughter seemed so sweet and I was so glad I got them!

OFF TO GRANADA

All of a sudden, I was at the airport saying goodbye to family and getting ready to fly to another continent! We spent some days in the city. I turned out to be a really great experience because I got to know all the others in my program during the first couple of nights and I got to meet other people who were staying in the same hostel as well. It was nice to be able to do my own thing, explore Madrid and try to get over jetlag before heading down to Granada.

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Getting to Granada was a fairly easy journey; I think part of it was because I was looking forward to starting this new adventure! Finally, we arrived early and our host families were there waiting for us to show up. My first impression of my host mom was that she was so sweet and that I was going to have a great time! I thought it was so cute how the host families knew each other, and some lived close to each other, so I had some of my friends nearby.

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MY LIFE IN THE CITY

One of the best things about my experience abroad was living with my host. Firstly, because the food was always great, especially considering she was a nutritionist! Secondly, we talked a lot: she was always patient with me and helped me practice. Whenever she spoke to me, she always talked to me like I could understand everything, which I appreciated. I think it really helped improve my listening and comprehension skills.

Walking every day (locals love walking) gave me an opportunity to get to know the city and live how the people there do. As far as my room, it was very nice and cozy. It had everything that I would need to be a student in Granada for a month, including a desk and a fan (Granada is a little hot in summer). Sometimes, it was a drag to go to class in the morning, but in my opinion, it’s best to go if you can because you’re already there for such a short amount of time that missing class could mean being very far behind.

As far as classes, getting everything organized was a bit chaotic and I had a credit mix-up, but Mila, one of the program coordinators onsite, was very helpful and got me on track and where I needed to be. I really appreciated her for that. In class, all of my professors were nice, and the CLM is a really cool building.

MY RECOMMENDATION

Granada is one of the main destinations for international students. I really loved my time in Granada and I would tell anyone who is considering this program to just do it! It’s a small, laid back city where you can go move easily from one place to another. It is historic and breathtaking. Even though we visited a couple of different cities on side trips (I even went to Morocco!!), Granada was always my favorite. If I went somewhere on the weekend, it always felt good to come back home.

If you have the chance, take it and don’t look back because the experience will change your worldview! Financial aid will come, scholarships will come, and even if you’re afraid of leaving home, the US and your family, you should still go because studying abroad is the experience of a lifetime that not many people are blessed with. It will help shape you as a person and help you reach your academic goals. See the world!