Tips, Tricks, and Friendships

Erica Schaab is a student at University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa and an ISA Guest Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA in Madrid, Spain

I have always known I wanted to study abroad but where and when were the parts I was never sure of. However, after a friend told me she was also interested in studying abroad and wanting to go to Madrid, I was all in.

After months of planning, it was finally time for our month abroad together. We knew we would have two other roommates and just assumed Kaleigh and I would be doing what we wanted and occasionally see our roommates at home and for a few meals. But wow were we wrong. After conquering our jet lag and crankiness from a day of travel, we decided to spend the day with our roommates exploring our city. Rachel and Christie, wow did they touch our lives forever. I believe every experience is what you make, but  without meeting them my trip would never have been what it was. From getting lost in the Metro on the first day to making jokes every single time we got off on our Metro stop, we were meant to meet in Madrid. Never in a million years did I think a city thousands of miles away would bring to some of the best people I have ever met. I truly believe that being in another country and opening myself up allowed me to make the best memories with the best people.

If you are anything like me, you understand how difficult it is to try to pack for an entire month in Europe it is a rather challenging task to complete. Aside from trying to decide what to pack, I think that figuring out how to pack it all is the most difficult. This makes it hard to even decide what you could possibly need for a month abroad. And if you’re me, everything has to fit and one suitcase is not feasible for ten days let alone an entire month.

However, if I have any advice for packing it would be to always be prepared. During my first two weeks in Madrid, it was cool and in the fifties and rainy, which is very abnormal for Spain in June. Luckily, I had packed two pairs of jeans a rain jacket, and one regular jacket. I would recommend to everyone traveling abroad to pack a pair of shorts and short sleeve shirt if you are going abroad in colder months and if you are going abroad in warmer months, bring a jacket and pants. Regardless of the place of time of year, always pack a rain jacket because more than likely you will see a couple of downpours during your time abroad.

If you’re anything like me, shoes are the best part of an outfit, however, while abroad you have to do this in a more conservative way. For me, I limited myself to two pairs of shoes I would wear while doing tourist activities, dinners, etc. and one pair of tennis shoes and my last pair was my Birkenstocks which I wore on the plane ride there. Also, do not forget for the plane: comfort is key! You are going to be sleeping, eating several meals on this plane so don’t try to overdress it. When in doubt, find room.


Your discovery. Our people…the world awaits.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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