4 weeks and counting until I officially move to Sevilla, Andalusia for my year abroad. I have been researching and organising this move for almost a year now, and it seems almost surreal that it’s now just a matter of weeks away. My flight is booked for 7th September and I am checked in – seat 3F. Two of my closest friends from home have generously offered to help me with the move out there, but of course, it’s hardly a chore for them considering that at the end of it all, there waits one of Spain’s most beautiful cities.
My head is now naturally filling with various thoughts, worries and hopes for the year ahead of me. So, what do I actually want from my year abroad? Is there anything specific I really want to do, see, experience? I definitely don’t want to be that 21 year old final year student who has just come back their year out regretting not having made the most of their time away, jealous of all the incredible stories his course mates are telling to him.
I will soon be formulating my own “Seville Bucket List” as that’s an entire adventure in itself. But for the time being, here are my top 5 things I want from my year abroad experience in general:
- Be able to communicate within social settings. Okay, this may sound really stupid considering I speak a relatively high level of Spanish at this point in my life after 6 years of studying it, however, I think I’m making a valid point. After having been in Barcelona for a month, making small talk / conversing casually in second language is hard. Understanding weird colloquial phrases and minor parts of speech which change an entire phrase is difficult. But this does mean, I must push myself out of my incredibly small comfort zone to meet other people. Do whatever I can to meet other people – volunteer, go on a weird ‘hobby’ meet up (yes, it’s a real website!) or maybe even find a language buddy / intercambio through said site.
- Actually explore Spain. Spain is filled with the most beautiful places; Granada, Valencia, Madrid, The Basque Country, Zaragoza, Salamanca and I want to see them (and my Instagram could really benefit). It’s a bit embarrassing telling people that I study Hispanic Studies but have never really seen Spain. When I’ve spoke to people about my year abroad, I said I wanted to visit some place new every fortnight, and they seemed a bit surprised – is that too much? I’m setting ‘New Place Every 2 weeks’ as my target and I really want to stick to it. As my whole year is going abroad at the same time, I will hopefully be able to crash with friends, or failing that stay in really cheap AirBnbs.
- Read Spanish books / Watch Spanish films. If there is one of these top 5 things I probably won’t end up sticking to, it’s this one. I’m not a reader in English, nor am I a reader in Spanish – I just have the smallest attention span in the world. Even at university, I have perfected the art of getting 75 in an essay on a book I haven’t even read. I’m well aware of the benefits of reading in the language you’re learning so I’m going to try with all my might to break out of this habit. Even if it’s just short newspaper entries, I must read something. Films shouldn’t be a problem considering I’m hoping to write my dissertation on Pedro Almódovar, I’ll just watch all his films on continuous loop.
- Don’t forget about French. I’ve been taking 2 hours of French classes every week at university for the last two years but my heart just hasn’t been in it. I’ve been picking it up pretty well, but I just need to do more. Although I’m in Spain, it doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to learn French. Thankfully, I am going to be working in a languages school just south of the city so finding someone who speaks native French shouldn’t be a problem at all. I’m going to hopefully pick up some classes in the school I’m working at, but if not, Jordan, please find some private language classes at another academy. Get better at French, your future-self will thank you a lot.
- Learn how to cook real Spanish food. When I’m at university, my friend Jessie and I cook something different for dinner every Wednesday night. It would be nice that when we’re living together in 4th year, we can cook non-stop Spanish food because I was able to expand my culinary repertoire past mac ‘n’ cheese and some sort of vegetable ragu. Buy a Spanish cook book written in Spanish, cook one dish every week, get your flatmates to show you how to cook – anything.
Let’s wait and see if I actually stick to this but hey, I have very good intentions.
See ya x