Getting Ready for Salamanca: A Note for the Perpetually Underprepared

Hailey Sanden is a student at the University of California, San Diego and an ISA Featured Blogger. Hailey will be studying abroad with ISA in Salamanca, Spain.


¿Estás listo para el examen final? “Are you ready for the final exam?” My Spanish teacher asks with an unnerving enthusiasm. My classmates smile wryly and nod.

¿Cómo vas a estudiar, Hailey? “How are you going to study?” She asks me, having directed the question to nearly everyone else in the room. I fumbled for a response that roughly translated, after looking past an inevitable grammar mistake or two, to something like: “I’m going to review the quizzes.”

While Señora Sosa moved around the rest of the room with her question, I considered whether or not I would actually prepare for the test as I had said, or at least, attempted to say, I would. Preparation has never been a personal strong suit, but neither has “winging it.” As a result, I exist in a state of perpetual under-preparedness.

Going into finals week and, just a short week after, off to my adventure abroad in Salamanca, I refuse to shirk preparation any longer. My attempts to develop a game plan for tackling final exams have brought me to realize that prepping for a test isn’t so different from prepping for a trip, or from making any sort of preparations at all. Ensuring that you’re ready for something really comes down to a few simple steps:

1) Stay Calm and Positive

It’s easy to let big events overwhelm you before they even happen. Just as the fear of falling from a drop tower is far more terrifying than the actual fall. Anxiety over things that are going tohappen can sometimes be more distressing than the events themselves. The truth is, there is really nothing we can do about that, other than keep in mind that much of the tension we feel now might actually decrease when we are immersed in the event itself.

2) Study Up!

While this is particularly true of exams, there are actually a lot of things you can educate yourself on before departing for a foreign country. The ISA student portal includes a bunch of information about the logistics of the program and about the language and culture of Salamanca. Read the Wikipedia page! Check out TripAdvisor! Brush up on your Spanish! Studying up can help diminish some of the stress you feel about spending so much time so far from home.

3) Think Ahead

Now I don’t mean that your impending trip should become part of your every waking thought, but it is important to acknowledge that it is going to happen and to make sure you’ve taken care of all the technical stuff required, like paperwork, packing, etc. Even though some of these things are a pain, they must be done. Distract yourself from these mundane aspects by getting ridiculously excited for your trip. Laugh when you realize you have to re-open the suitcase that took you a solid 20 minutes to finally close! Brag to all your sisters/brothers that you’re going to have the adventure of a lifetime! Post a countdown on Facebook that annoys all 100 of your closest friends! As stressful as preparing can be, we certainly do have a lot to look forward to.

One thought

  1. These are all great tips for those preparing to study abroad. As a former study abroad student in Granada, Spain, I can attest to that. Right now, I’m preparing myself to go teach abroad in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain, and, quite honestly, these tips work very well for preparing to move/live/work abroad too. Thanks and good luck in Salamanca! You’ll love it!

Leave a Reply