Hello to any family or friends who are interested in staying updated in my adventure to Spain!
I am very excited to be blogging throughout my semester study abroad in Seville, Spain, as it will provide a tangible method of comparing how much this experience will impact and build me as a person! I am now just two days from departure which is incredibly exciting and nerve racking at the same time.
I first decided to study abroad in the fall of 2018 after hearing a promotional video in my freshmen lecture at UW-Platteville. I’m glad I started planning then because I never realized the amount of work required to make it all happen. I am awful at decision making, so it took me several hours of comparing study abroad programs before I could set a course heading. There is so much to consider when choosing a program! Meals provided, living accommodations, orientation materials, on-site support, health and evacuation insurance, extra-curricular activities, and so much more.
I thought it was extremely important to compare what is and what is not offered in a program, so I could plan a reasonable budget.
It’s also important to remember that airfare is not included in the cost of most programs. With consideration to all of the previously listed factors, I finally decided that API was the right fit for me, and I haven’t been let down yet.
If you are thinking of traveling internationally or studying abroad and have never done so before, I would recommend to start planning a year in advance if possible.
I found out the hard way that applying for a passport should be the first priority! It can take a few days to complete the application, get a picture taken, actually turning it in, and then waiting up to four weeks to receive it. If you will be staying in a country more than 90 days, usually a visa is required. In order to get a visa, you will need your passport. Bottom line is to apply for your passport first! Afterwards, get going on any other documents or tasks that may take several weeks, This will keep the process moving in more smooth manner.
Packing has been a challenge.
A tip my education abroad advisor at UW-Platteville gave me was to roll all of my clothes instead of folding them. Being the skeptic I am, I tried both ways and confirmed for whatever reason rolling up clothes is a much more efficient use of space, though it’s harder to prevent wrinkling. This leads to another important tip: be sure to check the luggage fees, size restrictions, and TSA rules right away to plan accordingly! Doing so has helped me account ahead of time how to fit everything I need. “Mock” packing the past couple of weeks has allowed me to gauge how much of all types of clothing I can stuff into my checked and carry on bags while still leaving room for personal hygiene products, electronics, and host family gifts.
After countless hours of program applications, a passport application, a visa application, course transfer applications, scholarship applications, research, buying, and packing, I’m almost ready!
Ready to hop on a plane for the first time in my life and fly halfway around the world to a country where Spanish is the primary language, and I know no one. While I have never had problems with being homesick before, I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s been a little difficult thinking about leaving my family and friends for such a long period of time.
Perhaps the hardest part is knowing that I am going to change a lot as a person during the four months I am gone, and so will my family and friends. However, if I never took on my fears and pressed outside of my comfort zone, I would be totally unrecognizable for the person I have become. I have been blessed to have been part of some amazing life changing programs and opportunities in the past, all of which have changed me for the better. I find comfort in the fact that while I will change, someday I will be able to look back and not imagine the person I would be if I hadn’t studied abroad.
I have a lot of places I want to visit.
I think I am at an advantage for traveling in Spain considering last semester I took Spanish Culture and Civilization which encased all of Spain’s history, artists, singers, painters, and leaders. My professor has spent years in Seville, so she has been an incredible resource in guiding my research and supplementing my knowledge of Spain. Seville, which is in southwest Spain, not only has a beautiful Mediterranean climate, but a mixture of traditional Spanish, North African, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and gypsy ethnicities and religions. The architecture that dates back to before the Roman Empire bears witness to the high degree of culture variation in the city which I can’t wait to see!