Studying abroad is not all beaches, traveling and posting fun pictures on Instagram. There are a lot of those things associated with this experience. However, I go to class, study and adjust to life here, which is way harder than it sounds. I was given so much advice and information before studying abroad. But, there are a few things that no one could prepare me for. Here is a summary of the four of things that I wasn’t expecting about studying abroad.
How the Spanish Men are on the Street
Guys… I am not sure what girl likes to be called at, stared at, honked at or made kissy noises at, but it is not this girl. Us girls are told to just ignore them, put your stone cold fox face on and keep walking. Which works! But, after a couple of weeks with the constant “Guapa” I get annoyed. Yes, thank you for the compliment of calling beautiful. I will call my mom and thank her for the genetics that neither her nor I could do anything about. But, señor, I am also intelligent, witty and feisty. I have so many other qualities that are much more important and special than my appearance. This was something that I was expecting a little bit. I didn’t think it would bother me so much and be so constant.
How Difficult it is to Communicate in Spanish
I am taking both of my classes in Spanish and I can understand fairly well. But, my skills at responding aren’t so hot. I wasn’t expecting to struggle this much when having a conversation. When I am tired, frustrated or confused about a subject in class, I still have to try and speak in Spanish. When I get frustrated, my mind stops thinking in Spanish which doesn’t help the situation. By the end classes everyday, my brain is craving a break. I need to keep practicing speaking because its the only way I am going to succeed at my classes and become a better speaker.
How Different Living with a Family Is
I have lived in a house or apartment for the last three years. I am used to cooking for myself, having my room a certain way and coming and going without checking in with anyone. What I was not expecting (but should have) were the little differences between living on my own and living with a family. Making my bed every day, my senora straightening up my room, very very small breakfasts, meals at a certain time everyday and telling my senora where I am going when I leave, are all things that I should have expected but didn’t. On the other hand, I wasn’t expecting my family to help in my speaking skills to the magnitude they do. They can help me with homework, sending emails or just picking the verbs “ser” and “estar” correctly. It has been awesome living with them.
How Good I Feel
I wasn’t expecting to have my body feel so good! I am eating a lot of food compared to normal, don’t get me wrong. But, the food is lighter and made with really fresh ingredients. And even though I am walking about five miles a day, going on runs and doing body weight exercises, I don’t feel as many aches and pains. I am pleasantly surprised in how good I am feeling physically. This is a nice break from my normal routine of a collegiate student-athlete. But, I am still dreaming about getting back on the court with my team.
I am about halfway through my month in Spain. I am still working on getting the swing of things, overcoming my struggles with the language and exploring the city more and more. Look for more content coming out in the next week about my favorite places in Málaga, my advice for athletes who want to study abroad and more!