Chelsea's Study Abroad Experience: Spain
Name: Chelsea Miller
Program: UMSL exchange at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Major: Spanish & International Business
Term Abroad: Spring semester during junior year
Well, the very first piece of advice I would give for studying abroad is, "BE OPEN-MINDED!!!" Trust me, you will have tons more fun if you go without the expectations that this new country will be exactly like your home country. When in Spain, I quickly learned that people were not going to leave at the time previously discussed, or meet you at that exact time. To be on-time is relative. I learned not to be frustrated or annoyed because that would just make my time unpleasant. I adapted and just showed up late too.
Make sure you travel! Especially if you are in Europe, it is so easy to travel to the surrounding countries. My university was in Madrid and I loved living there, but I also was able to travel to Portugal, Ireland, England, and Italy. My plane ticket from Madrid to Dublin was only $60! That included taxes and fees and everything! Of course, you may think that all of this will add up if you travel a lot. That is no excuse! I spent a decent chunk of change because I traveled, but I don't regret it one bit. This is an opportunity that you may never come across again. So, take advantage of it! Spend a little more than you may want to and do things a little differently than you normally would. You're in a foreign country, make it worth the while!
The only thing I regret about my experience is that I was only abroad for a semester. I would strongly recommend going for a year. I am a Spanish major and at the end of the semester when I was just beginning to feel completely comfortable with the language, I had to leave. The first semester I was adjusting to my surroundings and getting accustomed to speaking Spanish 24/7. I feel like the second semester I could have expanded my vocabulary instead of still correctly my grammar. So, if you can, go a full year! It may seem like a long time when you think about it, but it will go by quicker than you want it to. You won't regret it!