10 Reasons to Study Abroad in Spain
Written by Jessie Fox
If you’ve never considered what student life en España might look like, take a peek.
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- Build new relationships. Living in a foreign country makes you vulnerable, and when you’re vulnerable, you can wind up making incredible friendships. Adventures are all about who you spend them with, and spending a study-abroad adventure with other American students, plus students from all over the world, can result in friendships that last long after the plane ride home.
- Develop fluency through immersion. Studying abroad is undoubtedly the best way to improve your Spanish fluency. Though there is a total language shock upon arrival, you will soon get past the native accents and feel comfortable conversing. If you do it right, you might return to the United States and find yourself accidentally saying gracias…
- Meet your Spanish family and other locals. As the intimidation factor begins to fade away, you can spend time getting to know the locals and your host family. Most locals are friendly and eager to speak with you. You will enjoy eating meals with your host family, and by the end of the trip, you might even feel like you’re leaving a second family.
- It’s a beautiful country! Traveling throughout Spain is relatively easy. All you need is a free weekend and a train ticket. Explore the big cities like Seville, Madrid, and Barcelona, or pop into a smaller town to see the gorges of Ronda or the beaches of Cadiz. You might even find that seeing the mountainous countryside through the train window is your favorite part of the trip.
- Tapas, tapas, tapas. The famous appetizer-like food that you learn about in class will exceed your expectations. Try traditional dishes like seafood paella, bright plates of jamón ibérico, and warm croquetas. Or dare to experiment with unique national delicacies like bull’s tail—even if it’s just to say you tried it.
- Experience the culture. Things like bullfights, flamenco shows, and traditional food markets are great ways to get a feel for the things that make Spain the unique nation that it is. Watching a bull fighter strut into the ring or feeling the rhythm of a flamenco dancer’s steps across the stage are moments you’ll remember for a lifetime.
- Visit the historical sites you’ve learned about in class. These places can only look so good on a PowerPoint slide. Seeing la Alhambra, the cathedrals, and la Mezquita in person is humbling, educational, and impressive.
- See the rest of Europe. After hopping the pond and arriving in Spain, it’s a lot easier to see other areas of Europe. Portugal’s gorgeous beaches are just a bus ride away, and to see France, buy a cheap airline ticket or hop on another train.
- Take authentic Spanish classes taught by native speakers. Students have the opportunity to take classes ranging from civilization and culture to Spanish for the young medical professional to marketing. There’s a class that fits just about anyone’s Spanish level, and learning from a native speaker forces you to speak Spanish and only Spanish.
- Strengthen your independence. Let’s face it: you’re never more independent than when you’re living in a foreign country thousands of miles away from home. No doubt, it can seem intimidating at first. But ultimately it will grow you into a stronger individual and teach you things about yourself that you might never have learned within your own borders.
Jessie Fox, ’17, is a native Michigander from Chelsea, MI, studying marketing/management and Spanish with a minor in journalism. She is a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, works for Campus Recreation, and is an assistant editor for the college newspaper.