Whether in high school or college, there are a lot of benefits that come from traveling to a foreign country to study. Three big things that I learned in high school from studying abroad were observing the differences in cultures, adapting to living in a new place, and learning through new experiences. I studied in Cadiz, Spain before my senior year of high school and am studying abroad in Innsbruck this summer. Therefore, hopefully what I have learned from this experience will give other students a realistic feel of what it is like.
One of the big things I learned while in Spain was the differences between the United States’ culture and Spain’s culture. Not only was the language a difference, but the way the people in Spain dressed was much different than the way Americans did. In addition, the house mom I lived with had very strict dining rules and ate very quickly which was much different than I was used to. Many people in the city of Cadiz did not have cars and relied on walking or public transportation. It was beneficial for me to adapt to their customs and understand that different countries have different ways of life. It allowed me to see the differences among cultures which gave me a broader outlook.
While it was definitely a culture shock, I had to adapt to the environment in order to gain the most from the experience. After overcoming jetlag due to the time change, I slowly became more and more familiar with to my new surroundings. Embracing the day-to-day experience of living in a different country helped me to understand their unique customs and helped me to get the most out of the trip.
The most important aspect to a study abroad trip is to enjoy exposure to new experiences. I was able to take salsa lessons, surfing lessons, and a cooking class to learn how to make paella. We also visited outdoor markets with tents that sold locally made handbags, clothing, and other things. This was interesting to see what vendors could make and how they bargained with their customers for the products. These things were activities that people in this country did daily, so it was a unique feeling to be a part of things that were so different than where I am from.
It is a profound experience to see different landmarks and meet new people outside of one’s own country. Any student who has the opportunity to study abroad should seize their chance in order to expand their knowledge.
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