Study Abroad in Spain!

I interviewed one of my good friends who’s in Madrid this semester for a study abroad experience. Meet Annalise Stein!

Her Campus: Why did you choose to go to Spain for your study abroad experience?

Annalise Stein: In my junior year of high school, I met a girl, Lucia, who was from Madrid, Spain. We shared a class together and often spoke Spanish together for me to practice and to give her a small feeling of home. I never imagined what it was like for her to pick up her entire life and move across the world to a different country for an entire year. While Lucia inspired me to meet her once again, this time in Spain, it was not the sole reason I chose to come to Madrid. Several years ago, I visited Barcelona with my family, and we took a cruise around Europe. After visiting Barcelona with my family, I felt the urge to explore more of what Spain had to offer. Although Madrid and Barcelona are very different cities, Madrid always intrigued me the most. As my cousin once told me, “Madrid is the New York of Spain," and I am glad to confirm that it is. The city is always bustling, and everyone always seems to be busy and have plans. There are so many different activities we can do in the city. I am a Romance Language major at DePauw University, and I study both Spanish and French. However, my focus is on Spanish, since I have been learning Spanish since I was in middle school. I have learned many traditions and cultural aspects about Spain through my courses in high school, and I have always wanted to experience true time abroad in Spain.

HC: That’s awesome! Could you tell me about “a day in the life” when you’re there?

AS: I typically have class from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays; Tuesdays and Thursdays I volunteer at a school where I teach young Spanish children English for an hour or so, and then I have class from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. After class, I commonly go out with my friends to get drinks and tapas, something like an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. I live with a host family, meaning that every day we have dinner together around 9 or 10 p.m. Unlike DePauw’s heavy academic curriculum, I do not have a lot of daily homework in Spain. After dinner, my roommate and I will commonly do homework or watch Netflix in the living room with our host sister, who is 15. We like to eat chocolate and ice cream while watching Mamma Mia (this is so American, I know).

HC: Favorite part so far?

AS: I love being so immersed in the culture. Every day I learn new words or phrases that I never knew before. There are so many cultural differences that I love learning about.

HC: Least favorite part?

AS: My house is approximately 30 minutes away, on either the metro or the bus, from everything. It is a bit inconvenient; however, my host family is amazing, and I would not change anything to be here with them.

HC: Is there anything that’s noticeably different to you about the way things are in Spain versus here in America? (Like anything cultural that really sort of just sticks out like a sore thumb?)

AS: Since Madrid is a large city in Spain, there are always people rushing around. It is difficult to find time to just relax in a park or have a picnic because to the Spaniards, this is not very common. I have also noticed that many people in Spain are very confident and continue to ask me for directions, even though I typically do not know where I am at that moment either. In the United States, I feel that it is rare that people ask strangers for directions because we choose to look towards our cellphones and technology. 

HC: What do you miss about being in America?

AS: I miss you! I miss the ease of life I have on a daily basis. I am used to certain structures in my life that I believe have changed. For example, in the United States we commonly eat breakfast, lunch and a large dinner (dinner being typically around 6 p.m). In Spain, it is typical to eat a small breakfast, usually consisting of toast, a large lunch (la comida), which lasts for about two hours, and dinner around 9/10 p.m. Although I have been here for almost two months, I am still adjusting to the periods in which we eat because I have spent my entire life living in one structure. I also have to take a 40-minute commute every day to get to school, whereas, in the United States, I can wake up 10 minutes before class and make it on time.