Where do you want to go? Where can you go? Where should you go? Day after day you are asked these questions just as soon as you show interest in studying abroad, and if you’re like me, you hardly have an answer. I hoarded Education Abroad pamphlets for weeks before asking for help in narrowing my options down. After my meeting with my advisor, I decided on Madrid, Spain because it had everything on my checklist- a month long program in Europe, through the University, where I can further my education in the Spanish language for class credit. What’s not to love?

After the decision was made, the planning began. I stayed on top of my deadlines and payments to ensure my position in the program. I also had the opportunity to connect with students that I previously knew who were also looking into studying the same summer in Madrid. This gave me a sense of community and calmed my nerves about going abroad for the first time by myself for I knew I wasn’t ever going to be completely alone. Since UA in Spain is a faculty-led program, I felt at ease knowing that the other students that attend the University of Alabama were just as nervous as I was.

I am currently in the process of filling my suitcase with the necessities for my trip. You will hear suggestions such as: “Make sure you have everything ready,” “Don’t pack too heavy,” “Double-check that you have all of your necessities,” etc. What exactly does this constitute? What do I need, and how do I pack it all without packing too much? The answer is in research. I, myself, am not a very experienced packer for trips abroad, and so I took to others who are and they have enlightened me on what to, and what not to, take with me. Clothes that blend you in with locals- yes. Every piece of clothing you own- not so much. This is a learning experience, and once my program is complete, I will know for my future endeavors what I thought I will use versus what I actually did use, and I will be more prepared for it. As of now, I need to get back to my Pinterest board for more packing suggestions!