No Baby Steps to Studying Abroad

Sarah E. is currently a junior at SYA Spain and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from The Potomac School in Virginia.

Now that I’m a little over a month into the SYA program, in this article, I wanted to share a little bit about my experience so far adjusting to a whole new country, family, and school. The morning after landing in Madrid, all 65 of us traveled together as a class to Parque Grande to do bonding activities. Though at the moment all we wanted to do was go home and sleep off the jet lag, the faculty immediately began assigning us groups and throwing us into the action. From relay races to scavenger hunts, there was no time to waste and our Spanish skills were immediately put to the test. 

Later once the school weeks officially began, we took a trip to Albarracín, a pueblo in the province of Teruel where we hiked up mountains and city walls, saw cathedrals, and learned about the history of the town *in Spanish* from a tour guide. Then another week, we traveled to a vineyard in cariñena where we made our own wine and visited la Aljafería in our cinema and art history classes.

Though it may seem like a lot to have done in one month, especially since this is the time in which we are all experiencing the biggest adjustments, the idea of jumping right into the Spanish language, culture, and overall environment has served as a very good strategy for me to integrate myself into a new way of life. What I’ve learned so far is that there are no “baby-steps” to studying abroad, and to learn the most it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities we get here and allow yourself to experience everything that the country has to offer. Because we did so many things within the first few weeks, I didn’t have any time to go through the “homesickness stage”, and instead was able to be fully present and engaged in the activity at hand. 

The first weeks of studying abroad were like jumping on a fast moving train. As much as I thought I knew what to expect, I did not understand how it would feel to have everything in your life change in the time of an 8-hour flight. I know things will settle down and feel more normal, but in the meantime, I’ll hang on for the ride. 

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA Spain