Cultural Adjustment, Language Learning, Living Abroad, Student Life Abroad, Traveling, University Abroad

A day in the life of a study abroad student

December 16, 2014

While here in Spain, I’ve found my days to be more relaxing than they were back in California. The typical day for me starts at 7:00 AM and I leave for class by 8:00 AM. Most students might find this to be early, but in the United States, I used to wake up around this time and ever earlier for work on the weekends. On school days I have four to six hours of class a week.

Because I’m doing a learn Spanish program, all the classes are Spanish based. Back home, I would be taking a variety of classes from different subjects. Concentrating of the material can be a bit hard when it’s your fourth straight hour of Spanish, but I think the material clicks a lot more when your focus is on just one subject. Studying has been easier too since all the subjects over lap. I also have more time to concentrate since I’m not working and I don’t feel as much pressure to get everything done, since I would usually do assignments last minute.

Spaniards eat a lot later than Americans do; I typically eat lunch at 3:00 in the afternoon when I get back from class. In Spain, a big lunch is normal followed by a small dinner later at night, around 9:00 or 10:00. I had a hard time adjusting to this my first couple of months. The first month I lived with a host family and was fully emerged in the Spanish way of life. I would be absolutely starving when I got home from school, and even then we wouldn’t eat right away. I would also get hungry around 7:00 at night and have to wait until they served dinner. Now, I’m used to the eating schedule.

My weekends are free, which for me, is the hugest difference between my life in the States and my life here. I’m used to working 30+ hours a week, the majority of which were on the weekend. By having nothing planned to do on the weekends, I’m free to do whatever I want. This includes exploring Jaen, or other cities, go out for tapas, or anything else. I usually only go out for tapas on the weekends, although I know people who eat them regularly on the weekdays.

In the states it’s normal to go out and have a beer with coworkers or go to the bars on weekends. People in the States are more likely to get drunk and that is their sole purpose in going out. Here, it’s much more laid back. People go out with their friends for tapas where the purpose it to hang out and talk with friends. It’s more social drinking attitude rather than drink to get drunk attitude. I like the liberty I have here to go to another city for the weekend and travel, which is something I didn’t have the opportunity to do in the States.

So far, I’ve traveled to Madrid, Ubeda, Baeza, Sierra de Cazola, Cordoba, Granada, and Morocco. Being here in Spain has really given me the opportunity to do things I would have never been able to the back home. It’s not typical for a student to travel as much. In Spain, it’s not typical either but most people know travel to their pueblos for the weekends and go back home. This has been my favorite part of being abroad. I love being able to see different cultures and being able to see all the history attached to it. You definitely don’t see that type of history in the United States.

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