Host City 101 – How to stay involved in your new home

January 7, 2019
API global leader Monica at Galicia Spain

It’s 2019! If your New Years Resolution is to travel more, we’ve got good news for you! We’re helping you make your travel plans this week on the blog. And we’re also helping you make the most of your travels once you arrive!

Today’s post comes to us from API Global Leader & Oregon State University student Monica Kunzel! Monica studied abroad with us in Salamanca, Spain. Today she’s sharing her best advice for making the most of the limited time you have in your new home… your host city.

API global leader Monica at Galicia Spain

After preparing for my study abroad program for a couple months, I started to feel somewhat ready to move to Spain and begin my journey.

I had been brushing up on my Spanish, and reading travel blogs on where to go. Despite all of this “preparing”, nothing prepared me for day to day life once I arrived. And to be honest, I felt slightly clueless as to how to spend my free time. I was used to a busy lifestyle here in the states and was in culture shock with the laid back Spanish lifestyle. In the United States, I spent my time being involved with my university. However, I did not know how to do the same at the university in my host city. The shift between organized chaos and the sudden emptiness in my schedule was a much needed change that I grew to love during my time in Salamanca, but it took some getting used to.

There were four main things I did during my time abroad aside from travel: I explored my host city, volunteered, took salsa classes, and also took part in language exchanges.

Cathedral in Salamanca Spain, Monica's host city

Exploring your host city is a great way to get acclimated to your new lifestyle. I spent a lot of time walking around Salamanca, and by the end I knew the city very well. It also allowed me to find new restaurants and fun places to take my friends. I brought my camera to Spain, and some of my favorite pictures were taken while strolling through the city. Being well adjusted is also important because cities look different at night time. Understanding the city during the day made it easier for me to find my way around in the evening.

Speaking with students that had been studying in Spain for a couple months was another great way to learn about what there was to do. I had heard about the opportunity to volunteer at an English school, and decided to look into it. It was a great way to help others while also being able to practice my Spanish.

Monica in her host city Salamanca

After a couple weeks of being in Spain, I heard about a salsa class that took place in a local bar.

While slightly apprehensive, I decided to give it a shot. That salsa class was easily my favorite pastime during my study abroad experience. It speaks to the idea that it is important to put yourself out there. In addition, it was a wonderful way to practice my Spanish and meet a lot of locals. Of course, I also got to brush up on my dancing while being away from my team in the states.

Lastly, I took part in language exchanges where I would meet with locals at a cafe, and we would switch off speaking in Spanish and English.

We would help each other with grammar, and common phrases in our native languages. This is something that was valuable because it was similar to having a tutor, yet you were equally able to help them in return. I was able to connect with someone from Spain through one of API’s Salamanca Resident Directors, all of whom were a huge help while I was abroad. I recommend getting to know yours wherever you end up. My biggest piece of advice, however, is to try more than one thing. Living in a different country for me meant I had a completely new lifestyle waiting to begin. By trying out different ways to get involved, I met some wonderful people and was able to get accustomed to life in Spain.

Salamanca's Plaza Mayor at night, Monica's host city


So to sum things up, here’s my advice for making the most of your time in your host city:

-Meet students who have been in your host city and know the ropes

-Speak with your program directors, they have so much knowledge and are there for you

-Walk the city to get to know your surroundings

-Don’t be afraid to get involved, I promise you will be happy you did

In closing, enjoy your time studying abroad. This experience will be the adventure of a lifetime and one you will remember forever.”

Want Salamanca to become your new host city? Browse our programs and give us a call if you have any questions: 1-800-844-4124.

Want to become a Global Leader? We’ve extended the application deadline to January 15th! Get started today.


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