Spain is a beautiful country with so much to do! I’m writing this post while on a train back to Granada from Valencia, an autonomous community on the east coast of Spain, and the birthplace of paella. The festival of Las Fallas started last week and will go until the 19th, so I went to see the ninots, giant wooden constructions that will be burned down to symbolize a fresh start for spring, and to visit some friends that I made when I went to Spain during high school. It was an amazing weekend, and I’m so glad I went, but as soon as I’m done writing this, I’ll be breaking out the textbooks, because while the ninots burn in Valencia, I’ll be taking midterms in Granada.
The act of studying while abroad is completely different than studying at home. For me, studying at home means heading to the library and dedicating a few hours straight to memorizing, writing papers, and practicing presentations. Studying while abroad means getting creative–asking your host family or Spanish friends to practice new vocabulary with you, reviewing grammar in a coffee shop, or, like I’m doing now, studying while on a train, bus, or airplane. Academics are an important part of studying abroad, but so are immersing yourself in the culture and taking advantage of the opportunity to explore the world. For me, fitting in academics around my travel plans and other activities makes my experience abroad so much richer, and feels more rewarding than squeezing in cultural experiences around my studying schedule. And sometimes they complement each other perfectly! One week after visiting the famous Mezquita in Cordoba, I learned about it in my art history class, and while at language exchanges and restaurants I’m able to use new vocabulary and grammar in order to communicate with native speakers. It’s all about balance!
Midterms also means that we’re halfway through the semester, and while sometimes I feel like we just got to Spain yesterday, most days I feel like I’ve lived here much longer. If the second half of the semester is as good as the first, I have a lot to look forward to in the next two and a half months.