The semester is almost over here in Madrid. The last exams are on Wednesday, but my last one was on Friday, and I’m flying out tomorrow. The finals went pretty well for me, and I’ve had a great last two weeks here in Madrid. Now that it’s time to leave, I can look back and see what were the good and the bad that came with studying abroad, and what experiences have been the best. Even now, I don’t know how I feel about studying in Madrid.
The best part of the trip by far has been realizing how cool everyone from Lafayette is.
I came to Spain only knowing 5 or 6 people on the trip well. Since then, I’ve gotten to know many more of them, and without fail, they’re all extremely nice people who I should have spent more time getting to know. Honestly, the group we have here in Spain is incredible because it has so many awesome people in it. Perhaps my expectations for humanity are too low, but I don’t know how we ended up with such a nice, outgoing, inclusive group.
The next best part of studying abroad has definitely been the traveling. I’ve already talked about that a lot, but being able to see and experience different parts of the world has been great. Since coming in as an inexperienced traveler, I’ve learned that there are really are some cities in the world that I love and need to go back to (Rome), and some others that I don’t quite love as much. I’ve learned that exploring the nature wherever you visit is one of the most important things you can do – for me, the nature, scenery and landscapes often define how much I love a place. The best traveling lesson I’ve learned is that you have the most fun when you interact with people and learn about the culture. Speaking with students, farmers, and our host families made the trip to Morocco incredible. And hanging out at night watching street artists was the best part of visiting Rome. I’m glad I’ve learned how to travel and how much fun visiting other countries can be.
Studying abroad did have some negatives, namely, missing everything that was going on back at Lafayette. There are lots of friends there that I haven’t seen in months, and for those that are leaving next fall, it’s possible I won’t see them for a full year! Also, our university here, SLU Madrid, is simply not as good a university as we’re used to back at home. I think this is fairly typical of non-U.S. universities, especially those with lots of study abroad students. It’s a little sad to think of the courses and opportunities I might have missed by being here! Still, there are two more years of Lafayette to take the courses I want, so hopefully that won’t be a problem!
On the whole, I’m glad that I studied abroad. I’ve been able to see many countries and gain knowledge about the world outside of the United States. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence as a traveler, and in my ability to survive somewhere without knowing the language. Coming home will be wonderful, and I think I’ll be a more well rounded person for this experience. For future students, studying abroad is definitely something you should consider seriously, but I wouldn’t say to do it out of hand. Lafayette, or any other college in the U.S., offers great courses, professors and opportunities that you won’t necessarily find abroad. Studying abroad can be worthwhile, but only if you make it so – and only if you’re not having too much fun in the U.S. already! It’s been a great semester – adios!