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Gabby Christina: Studying Abroad in Spain During a Pandemic

Last semester I was thankful enough to have met one of my best friends at Florida State University (FSU), Gabby. Currently, she is in Spain studying abroad at FSU’s location in Valencia. I was so curious about what it’s like being a student studying abroad amidst the pandemic, nonetheless a freshman. Read below to find out more!

Her Campus (HC): What year are you? 

Gabby (G): I am a freshman and graduate in 2024.

HC: What’s your major? 

G: I am a Psychology major.

HC: Where are you studying abroad? 

G: I am studying in Valencia, Spain.

HC: What are some of your favorite parts of Valencia? 

G: The city itself is really beautiful. I love the architecture of the old city and how colorful it is. A lot of the buildings are different pastel colors and the balconies are draped in plants which are also fun. I like that everything is within walking distance so I can walk to the gardens, the mall, many restaurants, etc. 

HC: What’s the culture like? 

G: Spaniards aren’t the friendliest to Americans. But they love food and drinking and relaxing. There’s a siesta—a time where everyone goes home to eat and relax and a lot of places close early. They like to enjoy life and not work 24/7.

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HC: How does teaching differ (Spain v. U.S.)?

G: It can be difficult to understand professors sometimes because of the language barrier. Sometimes they don’t understand what I’m trying to say or ask. In this program, I haven’t had a lot of work but that depends on the classes you take here. Also, I really like that professors will take us to places in the city that relate to the subject. For example, for bio yesterday, we went to the botanical gardens. In ancient civilizations, the professor has brought us to different cathedrals and archeological sites.  

HC: Why did you decide to study abroad while there’s a pandemic going on? 

G: I decided to come because I needed the in-state tuition that the program offers. 

HC: If you had the choice, would you have waited until a later semester to study abroad? 

G: I would have 100 percent waited another semester if I had the option. There are many restrictions implemented by both FSU and in Spain. The school doesn’t let us have more than two people in our apartments. The curfew is 10 p.m., restaurants close at 6 p.m., only small groups are allowed out and we’re not allowed to leave the city. The entire reason we wanted to come was to travel, so it is upsetting that we can’t. 

HC: Is it more or less strict than here in Tallahassee and why? 

G: Much more strict. In Tally, masks basically weren’t a thing and you could do whatever you wanted. Here you must wear a mask everywhere outside and can get a fine from the police if you don’t. I went to the beach a few weeks ago and the police took pictures of our IDs because we were sitting with a group of people. 

HC: Do you feel as though you’re still able to do everything you normally would’ve done if COVID was not a thing? 

G: No! I would’ve been able to travel way more and experience the culture of Valencia. I’m not able to talk to the locals here as much as I would’ve been able to. 

HC: COVID aside, do you have any tips or advice for anyone who hopes to study abroad soon? 

G: Do not go during a pandemic, you’ll regret it. Don’t be scared to make friends with the people you’re going with, having friends makes a big difference. It sucks to be lonely in a foreign country. Learn to cook some of the cultural meals in the country you’re traveling to. Get out of your room as much as you can. There’s a country to explore! Try to not get distracted by traveling because you still have some work to do. 

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