Some of you may remember a series I started last year called Fellow Travelers! It gives me a chance to share study abroad experiences different from my own and showcase some new bloggers at the same time!
This time around I have the honor of interviewing one of my best friends! She is studying Global Management, Spanish, and Supply Chain at the University of Pittsburgh. This semester she is in Spain and seems to be having a blast!
Where are you studying abroad and with what program?
Sevilla, Spain with International Studies Abroad (ISA).
Describe your schooling experience and how it compared to school in the US.
I'm taking 4 classes in Spain rather than my usual 6 at the University of Pittsburgh, so I have more free time, but you need all the free time you can get when you're abroad! All my four classes are taught in Spanish, so the classes are difficult since you have to be really attentive the entire time, if you're not fluent like me. Our program is a little strange in that all the classes designed for international students are in one building, so it makes it difficult to meet Spanish students at school. Overall, my classes and professors are great!
You are living with a host family. Tell us about what made you decide this. How is it going so far?
I decided to live with a host family to really experience the Spanish culture and so that I would be forced to speak as much Spanish as possible. In Spain, most college students live at home anyway, so it was definitely the more authentic Spanish option. My homestay is going well so far! I'm staying with one retired woman along with another American student in my program. I feel really comfortable at home and nothing super uncomfortable has happened thus far!
Tell us your best and worst experiences while studying abroad thus far.
I would say my best experience so far is how welcoming my host mother has been. I thought staying in someone else's home would be uncomfortable for a good while, but I settled in faster than I thought! I also understand her much better than I thought I would.
Do you miss anything from home that you didn't expect to miss?
I miss my family and friends of course! I miss being able to hang out with friends inside. In Spain, it's not common to invite many people into your home, so when you want to do something with friends, you have to meet at a common place outside. Sometimes you just want to sit on the couch and watch a movie! Also, I miss snacks (snacks aren't really a thing here).
If you could take one thing unique to Spain back to the US what would it be? It doesn't have to be a physical item but a mindset, routine, an outlook, etc.
I love that people are so blunt here. I've found that Spanish people just say what they mean, without sugar-coating anything. Sometimes, it's slightly offensive, but I find it kind of refreshing.
Why did you make the effort (it is a lot of work to study abroad) to travel and study abroad?
Well, it is a requirement for my major, but I would have done it regardless. All the work you put into studying abroad doesn't even compare to what you get out of it. There is absolutely no better time than during college to decide to live in a different country for a few months.
What is the best advice you would give to someone who is going to study abroad?
I would say to, most importantly, have an open mind. A different country's culture and customs are going to be strange at first, but you have to accept and embrace them. Also, always try to speak the native language. Locals appreciate your effort, even if you can barely speak the language!
Where do you want to travel to next?
Other than some trips I already have planned, I'd love to go to Greece or Switzerland!
For a better look into Kelly's time in Spain check out her blog!