6 Tips for Future School Year Abroad Spain Students

Carly G. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Georgetown Day School in Washington, DC. 

1. Bond with Your Host Family

Your relationship with your host family is not only a great way to improve your language skills and better understand the culture, but also a much needed connection that will make being away from home 100x easier. Put in that extra effort to go to the movies with the family on the weekend, cook for them, or sit in the sala after school to talk about your day.  

2. Sign up for Extracurriculars

The school provides you with a long list of extracurricular options. Take advantage of the opportunities! After school activities are a great way to get involved in the community, meet Spanish students, and learn about the local culture. Options ranging from community service to cooking classes to teaching English to soccer practice make it so you are likely to find an activity you love. And if not… you can always start your own club or activity.

3. Make Spanish Friends

Making Spanish friends is essential to broadening your cultural perspective. Many of the SYA classes include projects or activities with local Spanish schools that allow the SYA students to connect with local kids their own age. Use that opportunity to meet new people and ask questions about what it’s like to grow up in Spain.  If you are open to it, you will likely meet locals in coffee shops, at a club sporting event or at the local gym. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a lifelong Spanish friend.  

4. Keep a Journal

At the beginning of the year I decided to keep a small pocket journal next to my bed. I have to admit that my long entries came to a halt after the first month, but by jotting down quick thoughts about experiences I had and emotions I felt, I can remember the small details of my Spanish year. So keep a journal.  I guarantee when you return home and are nostalgic for Zaragoza, you will want to pull out the notebook and read your entries.  

5. Take Advantage of Independent Travel

Once second semester comes around, so does independent travel. Although the list of open weekends seems extensive at first, the end of the year will creep up on you before you know it. Travel to different places around Spain. Go to cities and villages, go to mountains and oceans. Independent travel allows you to take advantage of your time here and truly understand Spain on a much deeper level. For travel weekends when you have lots of homework, consider day travel. The train system makes travel accessible and easy, so take advantage of it.

6. Push Yourself

SYA will be take you on crazy adventures, pushing you far beyond what you could even imagine. Embrace it. Let go of what you know and what you’re comfortable with. Give up the reins. Accepting discomfort is what will allow you to grow and change as a person.   

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