Isabel G. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for our Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from The Loomis Chaffee School. Read more of her work throughout the year here.
EAT EVERYTHING. From local hazelnut Turrón, to the absolutely delicious seafood paella, to the epitome of a tapa, patatas bravas, you must try each and every thing you see. Three months into my year here, my camera roll is stacked with hundreds of images of the meals I've consumed. Not only is food such an integral part of the Spanish culture, but here it constitutes as much more of a social activity. After school crêpes and café, anyone?
GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS! If there's one way that my Spanish has improved, it would be through hanging out with kids my own age. I learn how to not only to keep up with the very fast pace of a teenager, but also how they communicate amongst themselves and what words and phrases they use. Without a doubt, Saturday nights are best when I feel as though I am truly immersing myself in the society and having fun doing so.
TRY SOMETHING YOU WOULD NEVER BACK HOME. If someone would have said to me that I would be taking a salsa and bachata dance class this year, I would have laughed in their face. But, it has by far been the most rewarding thing I've done. Now I can go back home and brag about my newfound dance skills.
TRAVEL. As much fun as Zaragoza is, leaving for a few days and seeing other parts of Spain is absolutely spectacular. When I went to San Sebastián in November, the breathtaking beaches were just the refreshing change of scenery I didn't know I needed. Earlier this month, I independently traveled to Málaga with several friends and had the most amazing time yet. Whether it is driving 30 minutes to Huesca to see the neighboring pueblo or three hours to Tarragona for a sailing and tanning, I think it is crucial to change your scenery once in a while.
ENJOY THE HOLIDAYS!!! It can seem pretty easy during Thanksgiving and Christmas to miss home a little. As a New Yorker, the lack of snow is something that constantly bothers me. But I've learned that enjoying a "Friendsgiving" with delicious, traditional Spanish food and baking apple pie for my host family is a once in a lifetime experience. And that while it may seem like you're missing out on some of the festivities back home, it's pretty cool that as a teenager I can say I spent my junior year Christmas in Barcelona.