A First Semester Reflection

Abby D. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a Campus Storyteller. She comes to SYA from Milton Academy. 

As I look back on my first semester here in Spain, it feels like just yesterday that I stepped off the plane in Madrid. But, when I stop and think of all the places I have been, all the people I have met, and all the challenges I have overcome, it feels like a lifetime has passed since September 6, 2022. In the following article I want to reflect on both the highlights and the challenges of each month:


Challenge: Honestly, during my first couple of weeks, pretty much everything was a challenge: feeling comfortable in my host family’s house, speaking Spanish at all times, growing accustomed to Spanish eating and sleeping schedules, and being so far away from my family and friends.

Highlight: On September 24, the Spanish national soccer team played at La Romareda, the stadium in Zaragoza. Before the game, fans packed Plaza del Pilar to buy gear and get their faces painted. My host family took me to the gam and even gave me a jersey and a scarf to wear.

Several SYA Spain high school students walk down an alleyway in Spain



Challenge: In early October, I joined a Spanish soccer team. The style of play and the formation were very different from my teams at home. I adjusted to arriving at practice thirty minutes before it started and to not getting home until 10:30pm. I learned new soccer vocabulary words, like “saca de banda” and “fuera de lugar.”

Highlight: I went on a day trip to the Pyrenees with my host dad and one of my friends from SYA. We went on a hike in the morning, had a long lunch, then finished the day with a walk in France to see the fall foliage.


Challenge: Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, my siblings came home from college and my family was all together (except me). As Thanksgiving approached, I was sad that I was going to miss all the special traditions and time with family.

Highlight: This month, my challenge became my highlight. On Thanksgiving, all of SYA gathered at a local Spanish restaurant for a Spanish-style Thanksgiving dinner. I met all of my teachers’ families and enjoyed American desserts (made by SYA students). Thousands of miles away from my American family, I realized that here in Spain I have found an additional SYA family.

I don’t think I can reflect on December because the month isn’t over yet. But, as I look back on these past three months, I am grateful for both the challenges and the highlights. Overcoming each challenge has made me equipped and ready for the next and, as each month passes, the highlights have become more frequent and more meaningful. I can confidently say that the past three months have been the happiest and most transformative of my life, and I am so excited for the next five ahead of me.

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Ha Sido un Placer

In her final blog, Camus Reporter Meredith M. reflects on the letter she wrote to herself at the beginning of her year abroad.

The Revolving Door

In her final blog, Campus reporter Isabelle M. describes her year abroad in France as a revolving door.

Time Travel

Melinda D. reflects on her final weeks abroad and how she and her peers have changed at SYA Spain.

Four people stand in a line smiling at the camera amongst a row of trees.

Campus reporter Camila F. writes about saying goodbye to Rome and shares the music that defined her year abroad.

Thank You

Julia A. expresses her gratitude to her host family, friends, and parents for her time at SYA France.