I always got one reaction when I told people I’d be studying in Sevilla for two semesters instead of one. The person I was talking to would get wide-eyed and start saying things like, “Wow you are so lucky! I wish I could have done that!” At first I really didn’t understand why everyone was always so shocked. My whole life I knew I was going to study abroad for a year, because it was what my mom did. It honestly wasn’t until I got to college that I realized I was straying from the norm.
Despite being conditioned from a young age, studying abroad for a year has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I immediately noticed a difference in my first and second semester. When I came back to Sevilla after seven weeks of traveling, I wasn’t scared or nervous, I just felt at home. It is incredible to me that I can feel this safe and accustomed to living in a completely different country, and I know that for the rest of my life I will consider this beautiful city to be my second home. This is a feeling not many who spend just the semester abroad can achieve.
Apart from simply feeling like a Sevillana, this semester I have really put in extra effort to establish my life here. I started tutoring kids in English a few times a week, joined a gym, and am taking a class with locals. It’s these little changes in my daily schedule that have further established my connection with and love for the city. It’s easy to get caught up in the typical study abroad student schedule, which includes a little studying, a lot of sleeping, and a lot of traveling around Europe. I definitely got into that last semester but this time I want my experience to be different and more challenging. I decided not to go out of the country every weekend but rather go on a few trips and spend most of my time in Sevilla. It’s really nice that I have the time to both explore all over Europe and spend ample time at home to get to know the city better.
So my point is, if you have the opportunity to go abroad for an academic year instead of just one semester, do it. You’re probably never going to get another chance to live in a different country for that long, and you will not regret taking advantage of it. The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only a page.