How to Live Like a Local in Valencia, Spain

Kristiana Cozort is a student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and an ISA Featured Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Valencia, Spain.

As a study abroad student, you may feel like you are in a weird position between being a tourist and a local. It can be especially difficult to balance these two feelings when you are living in a country that doesn’t speak your native language. It’s tempting to want to eat at restaurants with pictures and English translations, but, as my ISA on-site staff told me, “you want to live like a local.”

Preparing to live in Spain for 6 months, I knew I wouldn’t get the most from this experience by acting like a tourist all the time. It was time to truly observe the culture, and to do what every cliché tells you not to do- blend in. After spending nearly 3 months in Spain, I have learned how to find the best restaurants, cafés, and parks by trying to experience the culture as a local. Because of this, I’ve had more opportunities to practice my Spanish, expand my taste in food and music, and meet some amazing and interesting people. At the same time, I still allow myself occasional activities to indulge my inner tourist, such as visiting museums, eating at the restaurant where every waiter speaks English, and dressing in leggings and sneakers.

Here are some places I’ve discovered and experiences I’ve had during my time in Spain:

A coffee from my favorite café, which is just down the street from my homestay.
A jellyfish in the Oceanogràfic aquarium in Valencia.
A small pueblo in the mountains outside of Valencia- all of the signs were in Valenciano, but luckily I had my host family to show me around!
A refreshing hike with my host family in the mountains outside of Valencia.
You can’t live in Valencia without eating Paella! I have been constantly reminded by the locals to always make sure it is traditional-style Valencian paella!
An alley leading out of the Plaza Mayor in Toledo, Spain.
A waterfall some ISA students and I discovered during a walk through the Alhambra Forest in Granada, Spain.
Many museums in Valencia are free on one day of the week! This photo was taken at the Museu de Bellas Artes de Vàlencia.
A view of the Old Town of Valencia from across El Rio (a 9km-long park that runs through the city).

Studying abroad in Spain has given me an amazing experience, and has allowed me to truly explore the country. I have already grown to love the architecture, food, people, and culture, and I can officially say I feel like a local (most of the time).


Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

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