When you go abroad for the first time, it’s overwhelming and really difficult to figure out what’s really worth it. To reflect a little and share the best things, here’s a list of 11 things you need to know before you go abroad.
- Write everything down. You will only be here so long and it’s a lot of information to take in during a short amount of time. Take a few minutes every day to reflect so you never forget the experiences you’ve had abroad.
- Clear your camera roll before you come and fill it up with pictures of everything you come across.
- When you're looking at a pretty view, don’t only look at it through the screen of your phone as you take pictures, take a moment and take it in for what it is
- When you’re adventuring, only touch your phone to take pictures, don’t get distracted by the internet
- Me and my phone are often attached at the hip, but disconnecting feels liberating and enhances the experience of being far from home, even if it’s difficult sometimes
- Don’t get too excited about traveling and forget to explore your host city. You chose your program for a reason, and it’s an option for a reason: your host city is interesting and full of adventures.
- Be a little bit of a tourist in your city-look up the best things to do and do them, you won’t want to come back home and someone ask if you did “xyz” important thing in your city and you didn’t do it
- Save up before you come
- There are so many opportunities to explore and a lot of them are unfortunately not free. Be a penny pincher back home so that you can spend your money here
- When you go to restaurants, try something new and expand your palate.
- Here I’ve taken the attitude of “when in Rome” but the Madrid version-while I’m here I might as well do literally everything
- Take care of your physical and mental health, but push yourself out of your comfort zone
- Embrace the changes you start to notice in yourself- it’s the best time to soak up these experiences and personal development
- If you come to Madrid, don’t leave without eating churros and chocolate
- I promise
- My most important piece of advice is something I’m taking from the artwork on the track I run on at the university near my housing: Don’t count the days, make the days count. It’s a Muhummad Ali quote originally, but it’s written in Spanish on the track (No cuentes los días haz que los días cuenten). Even though there are a lot of people back home that you’re excited to see again and there are trips you are looking forward to next weekend, take account of every day. Constantly looking forward to the next day makes the days go faster and you’ll forget to enjoy every day. One day your abroad experience will end, and if you don’t make each day count, you will almost absolutely regret not living in the moment of every experience.
I’m no expert, I’m just one student studying in Madrid, but these are a few of the things I think every abroad student needs to know to make every day count abroad!
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<p>I am a student at Gettysburg College '22 studying Political Science, Spanish, and Peace and Justice Studies. Studying abroad in the Madrid - Language and Area Studies Program Fall 2021 is my first real experience abroad and I am excited to engage with the cultural experience I will have access to exploring Spain! In my free time I enjoy baking, cooking, listening to every genre of music, hiking, and other outside activities. I'm so excited to take a break from my small historical battlefield college town and move to a big capital city in a new country with a whole different history!</p>