My Study Abroad Experience

I’ll start off my saying that without a doubt up to this point in my life studying abroad has been the best decision I have made. Again, that is up to this point. I can almost guarantee that teaching in Spain will be my best decision.

After my sophomore year of college, I knew I wanted to study abroad and began researching as many programs in as many places as possible.  In high school, I went to Spain for 10 days and feel in love with everything it had to offer. I obviously wanted to return to Spain, but still looked into programs throughout the world. I needed a program that had courses, which would transfer back to my university and give me credit towards my major. Eventually, I found a program through CEA in Granada, Spain. Not only did the courses transfer back to help me with my majors and minor, but it was in Spain!



I stayed with a host mom, Lola, and three other students who were studying abroad in the same program as me, two girls and another boy. It was really nice being able to live with other students for social purposes, but it was much more difficult to speak Spanish in our piso because we all spoke English except for our host mom with whom we spoke Spanish. My roommates were from all over the U.S. and world. Lin was from China but was going to college in Seattle. Andy was from Seattle, and Ama was born in Ghana and now lived in D.C. but attended college in North Carolina. There was a very interesting mix of culture between all of us, and we all learned from each other…and had tons of fun too!

From left to right, Andy, Ama, me (with long hair), Lola, and Lin

From left to right, Andy, Ama, me (with longer hair), Lola, and Lin

As for school, I took 4 courses: Spanish Grammar, Spanish Conversation, Political Systems of the EU, and History of Art in Spain. The courses were all pretty interesting, but in case anyone’s wondering, the classes were not nearly as much work as my college courses in the U.S. were. I learned a lot in class, but as far as out of class research and work, it was not as much work. If it was designed this way, I think it was smart because I was able to further explore Spain and its culture, which was truly the best learning experience of all. 

Celebration of Granada CF being promoted to the Primera Division in La Liga

Celebration of Granada CF being promoted to the Primera Division in La Liga

Many study abroad students tend to live in their city during the weekdays and then go jet setting all over on the weekends, which is understandable, especially with so many exciting places to travel to that are so close and easy to get to. However, I found myself loving Granada, and while I did to some traveling, I always found myself happy to return to my city. I also did a fair amount of traveling within Andalucía and felt as though I truly got a good feel for the culture of southern Spain, which is why I selected it as a region I wanted to teach English in. Generally, I recommend to people studying abroad that they make sure to travel to other cities in the area of their city or country, depending on where they go, and to stay in their own city for a few weekends, opposed to flying off to exotic locales every weekend. I know many people who left every weekend and that the end of the program were regretting the fact they didn’t spend more time in Granada. Plus, I would have been broke if I left for somewhere every weekend!

La Mezquita Cordoba

La Mezquita Cordoba

All in all, studying abroad was the best decision I made in college. It also “cursed” me with my wanderlust. Now, I wouldn’t say cursed, but some may since I’ll be leaving my safe, secure, (boring) job to go teach in Spain for a year…and maybe longer.

The Albaicín in Granada

The Albaicín in Granada

I highly recommend studying abroad to anyone. This could be for a semester, year, summer, or even a month long winter break trip, not everyone’s schedule or finances allows them to study abroad, but I believe that if you can make it work, you should do everything possible to make it work! I’ve never met anyone who has studied abroad, who’s regretted it, just people who didn’t, who wish they did. 

Did you study abroad? Where? Did you enjoy your experience? Are you considering studying abroad; what’s holding you back? 

35 responses to “My Study Abroad Experience

  1. I studied abroad a semester each in both Germany and Spain. I traveled a lot around Germany when I was there, but I traveled outside of Spain for the most part. I’m really looking forward to getting to know more of Spain as an auxiliar!

    • I would love to be able to get to Germany since I wasn’t able to when I studied abroad! Where did you study in Spain and what were your region preferences for the auxiliar program?

      • I studied in Salamanca, and my regional preferences were Madrid, La Rioja, and Cantabria. I thought I should try someplace new! With my inscrita number, I’m almost positive I’ll be in Madrid. Germany is WONDERFUL and you should definitely try to make it over there if you’re able to. I may be tempted to plan another trip there myself!

      • You should definitely try to visit Salamanca! (Look at me, telling you everywhere you should go.) It’s mostly a university town, but I love it, and the architecture is incredible!

  2. I definitely agree that studying abroad and teaching English abroad were two of the best experiences of my life. Hope you have an amazing year (or more) in Spain!

    • Thank you! I’m really anticipating that it’ll be great. I know there will be ups and downs, as there are with anything, but overall I’m thinking it will be a new, exciting experience that allows me to grow a lot as a person.

  3. This is wonderful, highlighted your experience perfectly! I’m just itching to visit Andalucia next year! Especially Sevilla for La Feria. I studied abroad to Madrid in High School then to Barcelona for Spring Semester 2012. Loved BOTH! Took me a bit longer to love Barcelona compared to the instant love I felt for Madrid but I’ve decided I love them both equally for separate reasons. During my semester in Barcelona I spent time with other Americabs the first few weeks then built friendships with locals for the rest of the time, how I miss them! i really grew as an individual and formed a great deal of competence. Spain, no matter the region/city finds a way to appease everyone. Como extraño España!

  4. Sounds like you had a great time in Spain! I always wanted to do a semester abroad as an undergrad but just ended up doing 2 and 3 week trips during the summer with my professors. I loved those trips because I was able to develop great friendships with my classmates and professors.

  5. I studied in Granada for a couple of months one summer and fell in love with it! I moved over after graduating and started out teaching English. I’m an artist at heart and have slowly worked towards being able to focus on that full time. Now I’ve achieved that goal and Granada is the inspiration behind a lot of my artwork. It’s such a great city! And I love having the mountains and the beach so close. What were your favourite things about it?

    • That’s awesome! I took a look at your work and really like it. I primarily do pottery for my art but am nowhere near good enough to do it full time, at least for now. As for my favorite things about Granada, that’s a tough one since there are so many. I’d have to say the diverse and varied neighborhoods, the ability to walk the entire city, and just the welcoming friendly people and culture.

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  17. I did study abroad many moons ago (1980-81….when there were NO ATMs on every corner) in Madrid. At first I was quite apprehensive like “what have I done?” but then as I made friends I did rather enjoy it. It also planted another seed that I was unaware of until I returned with my family in 2010. It was then that I began thinking of retiring there. Both my husband and I fell in love with Malaga and it’s there we’d like to retire. a ver lo que pasa eh? I also highly recommend study abroad. It’s definitely scary at first, but also definitely worth it!!

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