Hola? Como estas? Yo hablo espanol? si, claro!
Yes, that’s right. I can speak Spanish. I lived in Spain for one year.
I lived in Spain, Sevilla, to be precise, during my undergraduate degree. I studied Spanish at the University of Birmingham, and a compulsory part of that was to live in a Spanish-speaking country for the penultimate year of study. Though this seems like a huge commitment, let me tell you, it was the year that my language skills really began to flourish. I lived, breathed and sweated (check fun fact* for background) Spanish, day in and day out for 11 months.
I could quite easily talk until the cows come home about my thoughts on international exchanges between students, but that’s not what this post is about. If you would like to learn more, do let me know in the comments box below!
Living Abroad: How Tough Can It Be?
So I thought what would be more beneficial than just ranting about my experiences, and making a change from writing huge chunks of text, would be to simply give you my top Dos and Donts for living abroad (as a student), plus, my top tips on all the best spots in Sevilla.
First and foremost, for those who have never been, or never heard of Sevilla, it is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited, let alone had the privilege of living in. It is located in the very south of Spain.
[*Fun fact: Sevilla is the hottest European City, and is known as Europe’s “frying pan”].
If you fancy a long weekend away in Europe, with family, friends, significant others, this would be my number one suggestion.
It is inexpensive in comparison to the rest of Europe; it has remarkable weather the majority of the year (it rains on average about 10 days a year); the food is fantastic and non-offensive mostly; and it’s small enough that you can walk pretty much everywhere, but has more than enough to keep you occupied all day and night.
Dos and Donts:
Preparing to live abroad:
- Do your research! Check out accommodation ahead of time, ensure you have at least your first night sorted out, and make sure you know how to get there from the airport.
- Do ensure that you have the correct documentation (identification, insurance, medical documents, student status, letters from college/school/university etc.) with you.
- Do pack anything you absolutely cannot live without that you think you may struggle to find (for me, that was sachets of my favourite oats; a huge tub of Skippy peanut butter – the only peanut butter I can eat – blog to follow explaining that one; my skin care and hair care products; oh, and in the interests of full disclosure, my teddy bear – don’t judge me!)
- Don’t take your entire life with you. Spain is not (that much of) a foreign land. They have toiletries and clothes and food…
- Do take some kind of a safe box with a padlock… so crucial for keeping your stuff safe. Chances are you’ll be living in shared accommodation, and it’s just helpful at the start to feel that you aren’t vulnerable in that way.
Once you have arrived/ Settling in:
- Don’t keep yourself hidden away in a sulk that you miss home! Yes, it’s okay to speak to family and friends, but try hard to restrict yourself to [X] amount of time per day. The whole point of this adventure is to go out, meet people and socialise.
- Don’t be afraid to speak Spanish. I’m guessing if you’re living abroad, you want to feel settled as soon as possible. Trying to do that whilst speaking your own language will not serve that purpose.
- Do attend as many social events as possible. Seek them out and go to many in the beginning. The more people you meet the better it is; you’ll be invited places and can then eventually decide where and with whom you want to spend your time.
- Do try to fit in. Eat the cultural food; drink the wine; dance the flamenco, etc. You’ll only have this opportunity once, so make the most of it.
- Do keep a travel journal. One of the best things I did whilst living abroad was to keep a journal. I documented every day I spent abroad. Even if it was just a short note to myself, I wrote at least one thing that I did every day. It keeps you accountable and makes you want to go out and do things.
- Do travel! Now, I know this is not a cheap one. But, whilst abroad, you should where possible make the absolute most of the freedom to explore the nearby (or not so nearby) cities. For example, I took trips to Madrid, Barcelona, Huelva, and Gibraltar.
- Don’t expect that your normal routine will be transferrable. Especially in Spain, where they live a truly Mediterranean way of life, my routine went out the window. As someone who was used to a 9am wake-up, dinner around 7:30pm followed by drinks and a night out with friends, I was shocked to learn that 7:30pm was when people awoke from their Siesta, and “going out” time kicked off around 10:30pm, only to arrive home after a visit to the clubs, round about 6am!!!
I think for now, I’ll leave it there with my Dos and Donts; though, I am sure that more will come to me.
So this is a slightly longer post already than I anticipated, and for fear of boring you, I think I’ll leave it here. I’ll save my Top Tips and Advice on Food and Attractions for another day, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
As ever, any questions, comments or anything you want to share, please do comment below!
Remember to “Stay Hangry“!
~The Hangry Lawyer, xoxo~