Well, here it is: the last photo I took in Madrid, Spain before flying back to the States. I took this picture sitting at my gate, waiting to board a plane to Charlotte. Ahead of me waited an 8-hour flight back to the U.S., a trip through customs, a bit of a layover, and one final flight back to Cleveland, where my family was waiting to pick me up.
I’ve now been back home for a couple days, and I’ve had some time to reflect on my trip from more of a distance—I think I’ll simply use this post to put down a few final thoughts about my experience.
Thought #1: The return trip wasn’t so bad.
For some reason, I was a lot more worried about flying back to the United States than I was flying out to Spain. Maybe it was because I’d heard that going through U.S. customs took forever, or because I didn’t know quite as many people from my study abroad program who happened to be on the same flight as me this time around. But it all went off without a hitch! In general, I had very few problems traveling between the two countries, and throughout Madrid while I was there, which I am very grateful for.
Thought #2: Culture shock is real.
At my pre-departure orientation in the spring, I heard about culture shock, and I believed it was real—however, I didn’t think I’d experience much of it in Spain. But now, looking back, I can see that there are definitely a few cultural differences between the U.S. and Spain. For example, in Spain, people don’t say “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” quite as often as we do here in the States. I never quite got used to that; I still said all of those things plenty of times, and probably too often. There is also less smiling at people in public; I’m used to smiling at people if I make eye contact with them, but that is apparently less common in Spain. Another thing—maybe this isn’t technically a “cultural” difference, but a difference nonetheless—is that air conditioning isn’t as widely used in Spain. Needless to say, it was a little toasty in a lot of the restaurants and stores there. All of these differences go to show that there is always something new, big or small, to learn and experience while traveling abroad!
Thought #3: Everyone should consider studying abroad.
I cannot begin to express how valuable this study abroad experience was for me, and how much I would encourage everyone to consider studying abroad. Personally, as someone who is majoring in Spanish at the University of Alabama, it helped me improve upon my Spanish skills. But even if you are not studying the language spoken in a particular country, a study abroad experience would still be a great idea. I learned so much beyond just the Spanish language; I learned about history and about a different culture. I gained confidence in my ability to navigate a foreign country, met new friends, and made countless beautiful memories. So, if you are reading this and you are somebody who is thinking about studying abroad, or interning abroad, or traveling abroad in any capacity, I was strongly encourage you to do so—you won’t regret it.
It has been a pleasure to write these blog posts throughout my study abroad experience; I hope they’ve been helpful to somebody out there. And remember, if you’re thinking about studying abroad, GO FOR IT!
Gracias por leer,