Study Abroad in Spain

If I were back in college, and had the opportunity to study abroad, I would be hard pressed to find a better study abroad destination than Spain. Having traveled through much of this beautiful and diverse country, I can definitively say that Spain is an amazing place with a lot to offer any traveler or study abroad participant.

One thing that I noticed that seemed to define the Spanish culture was the escalator etiquette. In the London, if you stand on the right side of a Tube station escalator, you’ll get run down by a mob of briefcase-wielding business men and various other frenzied pedestrians. It is very organized – stand on the left, walk on the right, and don’t screw up! In Spain, the scene is quite different. People stand with legs and arms spread, in defiance. The mindset seems to be, “if the stairs are moving on their own, why should I walk up them?” And trying to push past is almost a futile endeavor. You’ll get that look that says, “where do you have to be that’s so important?”

Beside the Bob Marley-mellow vibe, Spain also has some interesting culture, amazing food, beautiful beaches, great weather, and the nightlife, well that’s a whole other blog. Anyone interested in studying abroad in Spain should still intend to take their classes seriously. You’ll be able to get a lot out of your time abroad in Spain if you work hard at your classes, learn the local language, and put aside a bit of time for fun as well.

The laid back atmosphere doesn’t mean that it’s all one big party, but if you study abroad in Spain and don’t sample the tapas bars and all-night clubs, you’ll be missing out on one of the most fun parts of the Spanish cultural experience!

Next time: Study Abroad programs with internships

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  • sophia

    I studied to Salamanca with the intentions of improving my Spanish and experiencing a new lifestyle. If that is your goal, listen carefully: Stay away from other English-speakers!!

    That may sound extreme, but in a new environment, the natural tendency is to stick with your comfort zone. And the tourist areas cash in on this—you’ll encounter bars and clubs that cater exclusively to North Americans. Avoid at all costs! Not only will you get ripped off, but you miss out on what makes study abroad special. Wait until you come home to eat Big Mac’s and dance to 50 Cent.

    The key to getting the most out of your study abroad experience is swallowing your pride and becoming comfortable with embarrassing yourself. If your goal is to become proficient in a second language, get into the habit of practicing it all the time, even when you know you’re struggling through it—natives are surprisingly helpful. Not to mention, you’ll catch all sorts of idiomatic expressions and slang you’d never learn in class. I tell everyone that I learned the most Spanish haggling at ticket counters and the local bar next to my apartment.

  • sophia

    As far as traveling goes, I was on a shoestring budget, so I couldn’t afford partying at resorts in Ibiza or Sevilla with some of my classmates on a weekly basis. I quickly became an advocate of “off-the-beaten-track.”

    Sleeping in hostels, taking overnight trains, eating in hole-in-the-wall dives (food is cheap and delicious everywhere). I made it a sort of personal game to find the best deals. Of course, you never want to put your safety at risk, but be willing to get a little dirty (sometimes literally). It makes for good “life experience,” and I like to think it made me a little more grounded.

    My favorite Spanish spots were Toledo and El Escorial, a castle right outside of Madrid. And it takes a while to get there, but Lisbon was definitely worth the effort. If I had some extra time and money, I would have loved to see Alhambra in Granada, Valencia, and Barcelona.

  • Jordan Conn

    The federal government may be recognizing what many students have known for years — studying abroad changes lives.

    A bill introduced to the United States House of Representatives last week aims to increase the number of students studying abroad from 200,000 to 1 million.

    Perhaps the most dynamic aspect of this bill is that it will encourage the establishment of programs in “nontraditional study abroad destinations.”

    Translation: poor countries

    Rather than adding to the students partying in the Italian Riviera, this program wants students to expand their worldview and visit areas of need.

    It is potentially revolutionary.

    Read more:
    http://www.infozine.com/news/stories/op/storiesView/sid/21621/
    http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2007/03/19/news/local/

  • Jaffe

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