This post comes to us from Annie McIntyre who is currently abroad in Cadiz, Spain and is from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
I can’t believe I have already been studying in Spain for 3 months! I have learned so much about not only the Spanish language and culture, but also about myself.
I never thought I would have made so many friends from around the world. My classes have many other students studying abroad from other countries, so I really get the chance to meet people from all over the world. It is quite an experience to be an American student, talking to German/Russian/Ukrainian/Chinese/Spanish students in Spanish.
While studying in Spain I have also had the privilege to travel to many nearby countries that would’ve seemed impossible to travel from the U.S. I think that once you are in Europe, you really should take advantage and see as much as you possibly can. Spain is a very catholic country, therefore when a catholic holiday is celebrated, we have a week or so off of school, providing ample amounts of time to travel!
I have chosen to study in Cádiz, Spain. If I were to choose 5 words to describe Cádiz, they would be: small, friendly, beach-town, historic, and cats! I remember in my decision process, a lot of friends had told me that they studied in a bigger city in Spain, and had a great experience. I think it really depends on what you are trying to get out of the experience. For example, I have friends in bigger cities that have not improved their Spanish skills. These are large cities, filled with tourism. You can try to speak Spanish in stores and restaurants, but often times the workers will immediately use English with you. Whereas in Cádiz, you are truly forced to practice your Spanish. There are also larger restaurants and store chains in larger cities, whereas Cadiz has its own few staples. This creates a homey, one-of-a-kind feel that you just don’t find in the larger, more populated areas.
I also have chosen to live with a host family. I know many people that are actually living with their best friends from home, while studying here. Again, it depends on what you want to get out of the experience. I am focusing on perfecting my language. My family provides me with 3 traditional Spanish meals a day, which is great for a terrible chef like me. Having a traditional family also provides me with a true culture experience. I eat at the times they do (very different than American schedule), I know what they watch on the tv, how they interact with each other, the culture-based roles they play in the family, and small facts about local places that I would have never otherwise known. It is also nice that I always have true locals to ask questions to when I have a question or need help with something.
If you are debating studying abroad (especially in Cádiz), I would say go for it! I couldn’t imagine regretting not going, or wondering “what if”.