Last semester, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain for four months. I traveled every weekend, became fluent in Spanish and made memories that will last me a lifetime. I learned firsthand what it takes to wash and dye leather, what the sound of the daily Arabic prayer sounds like at 5:30 a.m., which type of gelato is the best tasting and what shoes are comfortable to walk along cobblestone streets in. I learned that saying you’re American is not always a good thing, lunch is at 3 p.m. and daily siestas are not only welcomed, but also necessary.
I would not change my experience abroad for the world, but looking back, there are a few mistakes I could have avoided if I’d had some advice.
First off, once you pick the program you want, call them. Each organization has guidance counselors to help your transition flow much easier. I asked my counselor questions concerning what types of foods Spaniards eat, what classes were most popular, facts about the city and what it’s like to live with a host mom. You want to be as prepared as possible before departing or you will suffer from culture shock. As long as you prepare ahead of time and feel ready to take on this journey, you will love it.
Second, I wish I had looked more into my class schedule. Like you would here at UGA, you need to carefully consider your availability during the application process. The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a difficult class on Friday afternoons while all your friends are traveling around Belgium for the weekend. The key to scheduling classes is to leave room for travel; after all, class is important but this experience is about stepping out of the classroom and into the world.
Next, be mindful of . . . .