The abroad experience leaves a lasting mark

Going abroad was simply the best. The semesters I spent on campus at Wake Forest cannot stack up to my semester in Madrid, Spain last fall.

Of course I missed my friends here and speaking the native tongue of English. But spending time in one of the largest cities in Europe was simply unreal.

First, without ever living inside a major city, I have always wanted to know what it’s like.

Photo courtesy of studentchoice.org

Photo courtesy of studentchoice.org

Well, Madrid was the perfect opportunity. There was so much to do and it was so easy to get around. From my homestay, I was only 15 minutes from Puerta del Sol, the center of the city.

Everything that wasn’t walking distance was only a metro ride away. Basically everything any area in the city was easily accessible for the most part.

Next, the food. What better way to try a country’s authentic cuisine than in the country itself? If you pay attention to food culture, you know that Spain is well known for tapas.

Essentially, tapas are the Spanish version of appetizers. For those who studied in Madrid, does El Tigre ring a bell?

Further, the Spanish are famous for ham and it became a staple while spending time in Madrid.

In my opinion, tapas, along with other dishes, were so important to the Spanish, that food was actually a way to immerse myself in the culture. Also, doner kebab is really important while being abroad. Simple as that.

Going abroad, specifically being in Europe, allowed me to travel to many differed cities with ease. Whether it was travelling to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest or going to see a seemingly different world in Morocco by bus and ferry, the travel was relatively short.

Plus, travelling within Spain was not bad at all. I was able to see many places including the beach city Valencia and or Barcelona and its crazy nightlife.

With so many countries so close together, it would have been stupid not to take as many trips as possible.

Finally, the people you meet abroad are just as important to your abroad experience as everything else. I was fortunate enough to live with six awesome guys as well as meeting a group of people that became my good friends.

We went out together on the weekends, travelled, played basketball, basically I did everything with them.

Without easy communication with my parents or friends from home and at Wake, my friends abroad became my new support network for the semester. Hopefully, my time abroad will not be the last time I see them. Yet, with all that is good abroad, there were two obvious cons about experience.

First was having to attend class. Yes, this was one crucial part of studying abroad, emphasis on studying.

But with so much to do around Madrid on any given day, I couldn’t wait to get out of class.

I suppose it was interesting to experience the way classes were taught abroad, but I just loved my time outside of class way too much. I guess it was the price I had to pay.

The second con was having to leave. As I mentioned earlier, Wake does not seem to compare to my time abroad. I thought I was ready to come home after being in Spain for a little over three and a half months, but after arriving in the States, I realized how much I wanted to go back.

There truly isn’t anything like studying abroad. It’s like a vacation from college which is a different kind of vacation in itself.

I’m sure I’ll go back eventually, but I will never experience something  like my study abroad experience again.

Everyone should go abroad if they have the opportunity.