The best part about blogging is meeting blogging buddies. I met Alexandra from Alexandra Write Now recently and was intrigued to hear that she studied abroad in Spain! She graciously agreed to let me interview her so that you all can hear and learn more from her experience!
So without further ado, I’ll let Alexandra take it away:
1. What made you want to study abroad?
I have always had the travel bug. Growing up, my wise father instilled in me the value of learning another language and appreciating other cultures. I studied Spanish in college and knew that the best way to solidify that education was to live in Spain. Basically, studying abroad had been a dream of mine since middle school.
2. How did you choose your program/location?
I went through AIFS to Barcelona, Spain. I knew I wanted Spain, and Barcelona is a dream destination. That was pretty much it, besides the fact that the courses offered were compatible with my interests and the timing was right (fall of my junior year). One thing I didn’t consider but did lucky with was the ease of travel in and out of Barcelona. If you are planning on country hopping during your Europe stay, it helps to pick a place that has a large airport!
3. What is the number one thing you wish you had known BEFORE you started?
Okay, so this might not be the most helpful thing to tell you before you leave, but the homesickness. And not in the way you are assuming. During my time in Spain, I did feel homesick for the United States and American culture. But that was nothing compared to how painful it was to come back home and leave my adventures behind. Reverse culture shock is a real thing, and I didn’t feel adequately prepared for it upon my return. My own country felt foreign to me. This was the hardest thing about studying abroad — the ending of it. Of course, that only confirms how wonderful travel is. It is so, so worth it. Experiencing the world is the most important thing you can do for yourself.
4. If you could do it again, is there anything you would do differently?
Yes! I would stay for a year instead of a semester.
5. Would you recommend studying abroad in Spain to other students?
Of course! Spain is diverse, stunning, and rich in culture and beauty. I traveled to Sevilla and Granada during my stay, and the amazing thing is that the three Spanish cities I experienced were entirely different from one another. Try the food. Drink the wine. Speak the language. Remember that nothing about another culture is scary, weird, or wrong — it is just different from what you are used to. If you are interested in photos and more details about the things I did in Spain, check out alexandrasbarcelona.blogspot.com!
6. How did you make the most of your time in Spain?
My parents won’t be a fan of this, but I did a lot of things by myself. I skipped class sometimes to walk around the city; I once bought a muffin from a bakery on a side street, sat in a park, and wrote letters alone. Sometimes I would walk the beach just because or go shopping without friends on the other side of the city. Those are the moments when I found myself, not the hours spent in museums or bars with friends and tourists.
7. What was your number one highlight?
The first trip I did outside of Spain was to Italy. I planned it with three other friends the first week we were in Europe. We slept in a train station in Milan the first night and got yelled at by policeman that “This was not a hotel!” (I can’t say I blame him). On the return journey, we realized I had somehow purchased a ticket that was for an airline at an entirely different airport they were flying from. It was 3:30 in the morning and I was separated from the only people I knew because buying tickets online is confusing when the sites are not all in English.
Anyway, I was forced to get on a different bus, driven by a man who could barely communicate with me. As it pulled away and I realized I was very, very alone, it occurred to me that it didn’t matter. I was going to figure out how to get back regardless of my fears. In that moment, I became brave.
That’s the best part about studying abroad. You have little life moments like that over and over again for the entire time. Confidence gained, you become a new person.
Alexandra Caulway is 23, dog-obsessed, in love with cheesecake, and addicted to running. She is one year out of school with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Mass Communications. Half of her heart is on a plane going somewhere else, and the rest of it goes on the page.
Follow her @alexcaulway on Instagram or Twitter. For more post-graduation life stories and inspiration, go to alexandrawritenow.com.