Once I returned from Spain, I swear I slept for three days straight … which means I did it right. Having the opportunity to study abroad not only is a fun way to get course credit, but an even better way to experience and immerse yourself in another culture. Summer abroad programs are typically 1-2 months long, which means you are no longer visiting … you are LIVING in that country for 1-2 months.
One thing I recommend while studying abroad is to fill every second … well, almost every second. Obviously everyone needs their alone time to just relax, but, you will not regret being as busy as can be while abroad.
In my summer program (UA in Spain), we had 4 hours of classes a day; 8:40am-10:45am and 6pm-8pm. While not in class, here were some things my friends and I did to make sure we got the full Spanish experience.
- Try out a new coffee shop after morning classes (don’t worry, coffee is only like 1 euro). This gives perfect time to practice speaking to the waiter/waitress, talk and bond with classmates, and people watch haha.
- Explore the city !!! Madrid is based off of an extensive metro system (transportation passes provided by the program) so we would pick random stops, get off, and explore. Another great thing my roommate and I loved doing was going to a staple place (like Plaza Mayor or Puerta del Sol), putting our phones away, and just wandering up and down the streets. At intersections, we would flip a coin for heads or tails and venture in that direction. We would stop in as many little shops, cafes, restaurants that we wanted!
- Find your staple places. We had 2 restaurants within a block of our residence that we frequented. We got to know the owners, waiters/waitresses, and locals! We would go hang-out there to study, work on projects, grab a bite to eat, or just sit and chat in Spanish. They taught us so much Spanish slang to make us speak like locals. One restaurant even threw us a themed going away party!
- Explore / sit / read in a park. If you need some alone-time or downtime, great! DO NOT SIT IN YOUR ROOM … You are in an incredible place that has millions of quiet places. The parks in Madrid are AMAZING and when we needed a rest / relax day, we would grab a book and a blanket and chill in the park for a while.
This list is endless !!!!! Explore every nook and cranny of your new home, I promise you will not regret it.
*** the best memories are the ones that were unplanned and we stumbled upon something incredible … like a wild Peacock sanctuary in the middle of Parque del Retiro … yes, true story !!!