What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about studying abroad?
Usually it’s along the lines of: Where am I going to study? When am I going to go overseas? How am I going to afford to study abroad?
Once you figure it out, the process becomes easier. You apply for a Visa for studying in a different country, speak with your advisers about which classes you should take, and you look up the country to understand the culture just a little bit better.
Studying abroad is a life-changing experience, specifically because you change your life for a very specific amount of time. Maybe where you live abroad is like where you live at home, but it’s still going to be completely different. Even if you’re from a city, you won’t be studying in the same city. Even if you’re familiar with the cultural norms in the other country, you’ve never really lived the culture differences until you’re in the new culture.
My advice? Pack some peanut butter.
It’s really easy to get homesick, or to find yourself changing your diet while you are abroad. In fact, most people from the States have to adapt to the Spanish way of eating, and especially the schedule. Spaniards eat breakfast relatively early, but lunch comes much later in the day. Americans usually have a lunch break around noon, but in Spain the siesta isn’t until around 2pm. That’s a big difference.
Even if you despise peanut butter, hating it with every fiber of your being and refusing to say the word because you loathe it so much, I hope you still take my advice and pack something that you know you can snack on. Maybe you’ll be missing home, or just simply missing that food that’s your favorite, but having a little something to lighten your mood if times get tough will get you through it.
The staple of Spanish food is paella. Spaniards also go out for tapas, eat a lot of seafood, and have bread with practically every meal possible. Lunch is usually a three or four course meal, ending with a bit of fruit as dessert. It’s easy to see the differences between the Spanish eating habits and the American ones, but I promise you that it’s totally worth it. Check out our Pinterest board that’s filled with recipes for all the Spanish food you will inevitably miss once you head home.
In fact, upon my return to the States, and after I stuffed my face on Mexican food from Moe’s and drove a few extra miles to grab some water ice from Rita’s, I instantly missed Spanish food. Sure, now that I was back in the States I could have all the free refills I wanted, but something was missing. It was one of the next thoughts I had: Where was the sangria? Where was the endless supply of bread with dinner? Where was the gelato from the Plaza Mayor, the fresh-squeezed orange juice from Don Mauro, and the siesta that I had used to its fullest extent?
There are no set times for siestas in the States, but all the differences between the cultures will make you laugh and remember the amazing experiences you were fortunate to have while you were abroad. Being able to say “when I studied abroad in Salamanca last semester” will be just the beginning of a long story, one that will help influence the rest of your life.
So, grab your jar of peanut butter and sign up to study abroad with Travel & Education for this upcoming spring! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions, or to tell me all about your “peanut butter” stories from when you were abroad!