By Lauren Dungan, ISA Program Manager – Spain
Four years ago, I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide and caught the incurable travel bug. Now, I work for ISA as the Program Manager for Sevilla and Málaga. During my semester in Sevilla, I wrote my own blog. I had not read through it again until now, and after reading it, I wanted to share some advice for future study abroad students:
Document your experiences
The first thing I thought of while reading my blog was simply how happy it made me to read it and how appreciative I was that I had taken the time to document my time abroad. Reading about my trips around Sevilla and Europe brought back so many memories, and there were so many fun and interesting details that I never could have remembered without writing them down.
Learn outside the classroom
My posts also reminded me of how much I truly learned that semester. If you are at all interested in history, I think it can be incredibly rewarding to research the history of the places you plan to visit on excursions or independent travel prior to arriving. It allows you to have better context from the moment you arrive and can result in being less overwhelmed by the information from tour guides because it will reinforce your basic understanding.
Set your priorities
Finally, and most importantly, my blog posts made me realize how fast my time in Sevilla went (as clichéd as it is). Because of how fast the time goes, the best advice I can give future students is to set your priorities for studying abroad before you step off the plane. If your priority is to learn Spanish, travel within Spain, set a pact with your roommate to only speak Spanish, and engage with locals and your intercambio. If your priority is to see as much of Europe as possible, find like-minded students and carefully plan out travel early (Eurail can be a great option). If your priority is to become a local Sevillan(o/a), don’t travel as much, become a regular at a coffee shop, and do your homework in a park or at a monument such as the Plaza de España. One priority is not necessarily better than another, but if you split your time trying to do everything, you cannot give 100% to each of your goals.
I will forever cherish my semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain and I hope this advice helps you prepare for your upcoming journey, no matter where that may be! ¡Que disfrutes, aprendas, y explores!