It has been exactly one and a half months since I’ve stepped foot in Spain. To this point the three biggest surprises of my study abroad experience have been:
1) Language barrier isn’t a huge issue
2) Daily schedules are renovated
3) Classes are free flowing
First off, the majority of the population in Barcelona is trilingual, individuals my age speak Spanish, Catalan and English. People are very friendly, and speak excellent English so chances are the culture shock wont be too overwhelming and you’ll easily find your way around.
Secondly, when I say daily schedules are renovated
it means that in Spain the workday doesn’t necessary begin at 8:00am and go until 5:00pm like we are used to back in the states. In fact, some businesses are not even open until 10:00am and moreover Spaniards do not eat dinner until after 9:00pm. It took some getting used to but eventually you learn to adjust to fit the cultural lifestyle.
Lastly, by classes are free flowing by this I mean classes are non-structured and very flexible. For example, group projects are not set in stone and group members easily come and go. Likewise, final projects are not given clear rubrics, boundaries and objectives. At first this drove me up the wall making me realize just how much I value flexibility and yet how I am also in dire need of organizational structure. However, after taking a step back I finally realized why project agendas are not clearly listed. It is because professors think listing the exact agenda would limit the student’s creative ability. So far each and every one of these surprises has taught me a new skill or helped me develop ones I already processed.
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”- Clifton Fadiman
Sign in a Spanish airport
A courtyard in ESCI, a local university where courses are taught.
Walking on a weekend trip to Sevilla, Spain.