Spanish and Early Childhood education major
Fall semester in Burgos, Spain
My life in Spain, at the University of Burgos, has its ups and downs. It also has its differences and similarities from living in Kalamazoo.
The first difference I’ve encountered is that I’m living with a family instead of with roommates. Which means I have a responsibility to think about not only contacting my own parents but also taking time out of my day to talk to my host parents and play with my host siblings. Although this gives me less time with my friends, it is definitely my main source of viewing cultural differences. I also love my host family so that helps a lot with the change!
Secondly, I have chosen to go into a program where I previously knew very few of my fellow study abroad students. In doing this I was forced to make all new friends instead of relying on my good friends at western and making the occasional new friends. On top of that I am expected to make friends in a different language! Which can be done but is very intimidating.
And the third major difference is that I can’t drive 2 hours to see my parents or my friends in other colleges. I can’t even drive 10
minutes to see my closest friends. I actually can’t drive anywhere and I walk everywhere. I can however take a bus to the ocean which is 2 hours away or take a plane ride to another country in 1 hour!
Now I know that’s a lot to take in but let’s consider the similarities.
The first similarity is that I can spend my free time in almost exactly the same way. I can read, watch Netflix, go out with my friends to get food, take a nap (or 3), and check my social media whenever I have down time. I thought that being in Spain would give me less down time but in actuality you can have as much or as little as you’d like. At western I typically see my friends every day and give myself very little down time and in Spain I do the same! Other people in my program prefer to have more time to watch movies, hang out at home or read in the park which is totally doable as well. The only requirements are classes, homework and spending time with your family. The rest is up to you, just like at WMU.
Secondly, the wardrobe of the students here is very similar to the wardrobe students wear at WMU. Some students dress up for class and some dress down. I would say bring comfortable clothes but in my experience it is always better to dress a bit better than you think you need to. No harm in looking nice just in case! But also, you do you. If shorts and tee shirts are your thing than wear that. I would suggest to pack an equal amount of nice and casual clothes but overall you can wear an American wardrobe and fit in just fine.
And finally, coffee is coffee and chocolate is chocolate. They have many of the same staple foods here so don’t worry too much about not having your favorite foods, although, yes, they may not have some specific American foods. You can live without them for a couple months and if not bring a small stash. But I promise the food in Spain, and probably the rest of Europe, is so good you’ll quickly forget about your American favorites and make new ones. Especially if your mom can cook well!!