Studying Abroad in Spain
I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list
It's time to depart!
After long months of applying and getting paperwork ready to start my journey as a study abroad student, I am now so close to moving to Europe. One of the most important parts of your time abroad is how you prepare for it. I created a folder on Notes called “Study Abroad”, where I have all the details about my time abroad. For example, I categorized the packing list with documents, clothing, shoes, accessories, toiletries, etc. I made sure to name the item I wanted to know exactly what to bring and not overpack. An advice that I would give to a student studying abroad is to minimize the amount of clothing and shoes because you will most likely want to buy clothing abroad. A helpful tip that I found after reading many articles and watching many studying abroad videos on YouTube is to research a lot about the weather, the clothing style, and the culture.
Time is Flying by just like my emotions. Because it's almost time to leave, I have been feeling anxious, happy, sad, fear. All the emotions at once because I do not know what to expect. One of my fears is creating friendships. Even though I will be studying abroad with my twin sister Glendalis, I still fear not being able to make friends. I also fear not being able to enjoy my time abroad because of assignments. I tend to isolate myself whenever I get overwhelmed with homework. However, I am excited to meet everyone and go on trips around Europe. I look forward to visiting Italy, France, Morocco, Portugal, and many cities in Spain. Likewise, I am thrilled to meet locals and find Latinos in Sevilla to feel at home within my community.
Now I am all packed and ready to head to the airport! I arrived at Logan International Airport four hours before my flight because I feared that the lines to check my suitcases will take a long time since it is an international flight. Nevertheless, there were barely any people in line for the counter or going through TSA. Arriving at the Madrid Airport was a little different. The immigration and customs lines were really long and slow. Many international flights arrived around the same time which caused me to wait around an hour to get through it. After, we had to take a train to the terminal where our checked bags were which was easy because I researched the airport. This was super helpful because I was able to find everything just like the videos I saw. It made my experience so much better and enjoyable. Overall, my flight experience was amazing including the meals.
Now that I arrived, I was looking to try some tapas and get some rest before our program orientation meeting. After orientation, we went to a restaurant called “El Economato” for our welcome dinner with the whole API program (Academic Program International). It was a great time to get to know everyone with really yummy food and amazing vibes.
In a couple of days, I will be leaving for Sevilla with the whole program where we will start our study abroad experience. See you in Sevilla! 😊
Welcome to Sevilla!
My program scheduled two nights in Madrid. After visiting many important palaces and monuments in Madrid, we started our 6 hours bus journey to Sevilla. We stopped in Toledo, another beautiful city in Spain on the way to Sevilla. We had a walking tour of the city, and we visited the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo. After a couple of hours, we arrived in Sevilla. I was really excited to see how beautiful Sevilla looked. The architecture was breathtaking. The structure of the streets, the cars, the motorcycles, the people walking, it all looks different.
Sevilla is always busy, with people walking at all times of the day, except when it is Siesta time (nap time). That’s when everyone takes their break from work, and school, stores close from 3 to 5 in the afternoon. We arrived at nighttime, and I can tell that the night will be my favorite moment of the day. Sevilla is just more beautiful with a lot of lights, and trees, and feels more secure walking.
Our residencia host mom prepared pasta and salad for dinner and it was so good. I share a second-floor apartment with 5 other girls, yes, it’s many people living in the apartment. But I love my room which I share with my twin sister because is enough for both of us and it has a balcony! I would have never thought that I will ever have a room with a balcony in my life. We live within walking distance of the center of the city which I love because I can find anything to do every day. The weather here is super-hot, sometimes infuriating, but my body will get used to it.
I still cannot believe that I started my senior year of college in Spain. We had orientation Monday, September 12 where we got our classes scheduled and a tour of campus. My first impression of the campus was this is a big school. It’s a big campus which I am used to because UMass Dartmouth is a big campus as well. All the international students’ courses will take place on the second floor of the library which I am blessed with because the only walk we must do is to get to the building from the metro stop, which is like 10 to 15 minutes. I experienced my first culture shock in school. Students are not allowed to eat food or snacks in the library and can only drink water. This was a shock for me because in the United States the library most likely has either a Starbucks or a cafeteria where students are allowed to drink or eat anything while studying. I am currently enjoying the culture, eating Spanish food, my new friends, and making new memories.
Estoy muy Feliz! ♥
My appreciation for my new city grows as I spend more time there. It took some getting used to city life, but it was well worth it. Now, I pursue every chance that presents itself. For me, everything is going better than I had anticipated, and all my initial concerns no longer exist.
One thing that I find different from home is how normal it is to smoke cigarettes in public. Everywhere you look you’ll find locals smoking at all times of the day. In addition, public transportation here is amazing and cheap. Sevilla has a metro line, buses, bikes, and scooters for low prices. You can get anywhere very easily and fast. Another thing I find very different is that there are not many varieties of food items like back in the United States. You will probably find two to three different varieties of things. On the other hand, there are a couple of things that are similar back home. For example, I found a neighborhood near my apartment where Latinos live, mostly Dominicans. I find that interesting that Latinos live near each other here in Spain. It is like Lawrence, MA where I live because my city is completely Latinos. I was very happy to find my community where I fell at home.
In Seville, they have a festival for the month of October called “Festival De Las Naciones” (National festival). This festival offers all types of cuisines from every country. Each country has a kiosk where they sell their most traditional meals and drinks. This is so exciting because I can try different countries’ food and expand my knowledge of their culture and spices. I was there every week with my friends, and it was an amazing experience. I fell in love with this city because I love that Spaniards enjoy socializing outside their houses. In the afternoon and nighttime, you’ll find the city filled with people walking, biking, drinking in a bar, eating in a restaurant, or even just hanging out in the parks. I learned that they love to spend time with their family and friends outside their houses which is very different from the United States where everyone gets together in their houses, not in public places. I am forcing myself to be more outgoing and enjoy this amazing opportunity to socialize with locals and enjoy the city.
However, I am still trying to adjust. It can be hard because you see how everyone might adjust faster than you while you are still struggling. Something I am still trying to adjust to is the weather. There are days that the temperatures can hit the 80s and 90’s degrees Fahrenheit which is also a concern to many locals in this season. When thinking about studying abroad, I never thought that adjusting was going to be one of the main challenges. Nevertheless, day by day I am adapting and taking time to understand my emotions and not creating or pressuring myself to meet certain expectations. As a newcomer, sometimes I get homesick, which is normal for any student studying abroad. Sometimes when things do not go the way I plan them, I feel that I am failing myself. I start thinking of how comfortable my life was back home getting homesick. For example, midterms were hard, and I had so much stress that I just missed having the help of my loved ones. In that situation, I start to think about the amazing opportunity that I have to be able to study in Spain and travel around the world. Also, as a newcomer, you will feel like everyone is looking at you. Because you sound different, locals will stare at you and might make you feel uncomfortable, but they are just curious.
That being said while adapting I started traveling. After a 6-hour delay, I arrived in Italy! I visited two cities; Bari and Monopoli. It is amazing to think that I am able to travel to countries that I never thought I will ever go to because of how expensive it is from the US. However, since it is closer to Spain, it was more affordable. I went with my twin sister and two of my close friends I made. In Bari, we had the best breakfast in a long time in the restaurant called Jèrôme Chocolat. We also visited Porto Verde in Monopoli, and it had one of the best beaches and views that I had ever seen. I got freshly made Pizza called Diavula with three kinds of cheese and salami. It was really yummy and for dinner, my friends and I tried Puglia traditional dish which was exciting because it taste completely different than what I have tried before. On our last day, we visited the street where women made home-fresh pasta. It was mindblowing to see how they cut and shape them. Overall, I enjoyed my time and will be back to visit.
Ciao amici! ♥
The studying part of Studying Abroad
Studying in Sevilla can be a little hectic since I must take the metro to get to the university. One of the metro stops is 10 minute walk from my apartment. It is a 20-minute ride on the metro and a 10-to-15-minute walk to the Library of the school, where all the international students' classes take place. It can be hectic to ride on the metro because since it is very affordable and easy to travel around the city, it is mostly crowded.
My class schedule is Monday to Thursday. I take 2 courses each day which alternate twice a week. Currently, I am taking Literatura Española Contemporánea, El cuento latinoamericano, International Marketing, and US – European Relations Since World War II. Rarely do we have classes on Fridays but only when there are holidays during the week and we need to recuperate those credit hours.
The class dynamics are very different than in the US because we do a lot of presentations every week that for the Spanish professors are seen as homework while back home, they will be given as a project. Also, for my Spanish literature classes I must make 1-page essays after reading the stories or literature reading based on what we learned and prompt questions as well as making individual and group presentations about the authors we read. The in-class dynamic consists of sometimes writing comparative essays between readings and/or authors previously talked about and class discussion on the homework reading. My classes are composed of only international students, mostly from the United States but also from other parts of the world such as Germany, Korea, México, etc.
My favorite place in the university is the outside cafeteria because they sell a variety of food and tapas that students can get as well as any type of drink including alcohol. The best thing I have discovered is this university's coffee machine on every corner. You only need to press buttons to choose the type of coffee you prefer, for example, vanilla cappuccino, lattes, sugar, and milk, among other things to customize your coffee. You can pay with both cash and cards. Very easy and fast way for students to get a boost of energy.