5 Things Studying Abroad Has Taught Me So Far.

I’m basically halfway through my program here in Spain (cue the tears) but I feel like I’ve gained several years’ worth of wisdom since I’ve been here. Being a firm believer in everything happens for a reason, I can see all kinds of different situations that have occurred over the course of my life that have been wonderful learning experiences (even though they didn’t feel like it at the time). Spain is no exception to this. I’m here today to share with you five things that I’ve learned so far during my study abroad experience. If you’re thinking about studying abroad or you have any questions regarding it, be sure to let me know via comments, email or on Instagram (@oliviableeker).

1. You will absolutely make lifelong friends. 

No matter how ridiculously cliche and cheesy it sounds, this is so so so important. When I came to Spain to study abroad, my boyfriend also did too. To say that the time we’ve spent together traveling and exploring Alicante has been wonderful would be the understatement of the year. However, I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to also go our own separate paths and make tons of incredible friends for ourselves. Alicante is a very international city so not only have I made a plethora of friends from Spain, I’ve also made friends from Argentina, England, Germany, South Africa, and many more places. All of this being said, I haven’t even touched on the people from my university that came here, too. I have met some of my best friends here in Spain, but the best part is…they go to my university so the party won’t stop when I leave Spain. With some of these girls on the trip, I know I have friends for life. That is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.

2. You’ll find a second home. 

Because of the program I chose, I was given the incredible opportunity to live with a host family. My wonderful host family consists of my Madre, my Padre, two host sisters and host brother. Living with them, I have gotten a completely new outlook on all kinds of life issues, learned about all kinds of Spanish customs, and {IMPORTANTLY} eaten some of the best food I’ve ever had. My host family is actually from Argentina so I eat this beautiful mix of Italian, Argentine, + Spanish foods. It’s the absolute best. I can already tell you that I’ll definitely be visiting Alicante again in my life, and I have a good idea of where I can crash if I ever need a place to stay. 🙂

3. You’re given an irreplaceable chance to see the world. 

I’ve already grown so much to feel like Alicante is my second home while I’m studying here, but that’s not even to mention the other incredible aspect about living in Europe ~ travel. Currently, since I am on my spring break from the university, I am taking a three week trip backpacking Europe. Seville {Spain}, Brussels {Belgium}, Copenhagen {Denmark}, Venice {Italy}, Milan {Italy}, Budapest {Hungary}, + Dublin {Ireland} are all the places that I’m exploring right now and I couldn’t be happier! When airplane tickets from the U.S. to Europe are so expensive in the first place, this is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of while you are studying abroad! Most of my flights for these three weeks cost me under 20€, so basically $22 or less for every flight. To me this is something that I would never be able to afford if I kept flying from the U.S. to visit each one of these places individually, so I couldn’t be happier for this opportunity!

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4. You will improve your second language skills. 

Coming to Spain, I could speak Spanish más o menos, but after being here for several months, I’ve noticed several things about myself. Not only am I learning how to speak a lot more rapidly, but I am also gaining so much in my confidence. Even if I don’t know a word, I just say it and hope for the best. Before Spain, I would think and think and think in order to pull together several sentences ahead of saying them. Now I notice that I can just speak freely without even thinking about it and it is starting to come so naturally. I’m so happy to see the progress that I’ve made and I highly recommend this to you when you think about studying abroad. Of course I know people who have gone to Australia, Ireland, England, etc. where they have had incredible times, but I definitely think that there is something to be said for the added layer of learning a foreign language when you go.

5. Food. 

Well, this really is pretty self explanatory but the food abroad is incredible. Honestly even every different city I’ve visited in Spain has had their own type of cuisine so it’s amazing to see the differences as you move from north to south or east to west. Coupled with fresh fruits and fruit juices everywhere you go and regionally specific dishes of paella, Spain has gifted me the most incredible thing of food. I’m sorry if I come back to the U.S. with my jeans fitting a little tighter.

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I hope this has shown you just a glimpse into my life right now and some of my favorite aspects of studying abroad so far! I can’t wait to make a final post when I get back to the U.S. recapping everything I’ve learned over the five months that I’ll be here in Spain! Stay tuned!

Much love,

Olivia

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