Making the Most of Your Time Abroad

Anna (right) and her friend Ellie exploring Toledo Anna Matthews

Semesters abroad are designed for more than studying and sleep. 

Before you go on a year abroad everyone will tell you (and you will most likely tell yourself): "You must make the most of it while you’re out there."

After two months in Spain, I can’t stress enough how true that is. Living somewhere like Madrid—a city that is full of culture—there is always something to do, places to explore and things to see. 

Occasionally, it’s tempting after a tiring week at university to have a quiet Saturday and get a dose of home comfort by watching a bit of Netflix in bed. My advice? Shut your laptop down, get up and explore. Something I’ve realized in the last couple of months is that when opportunities arise, however obscure they may sound, it’s such a good idea to just say yes.

Although Madrid feels like home now, it also feels like I’ve only been here for two minutes.

I am already finding that the year is flying by. Although Madrid feels like home now, it also feels like I’ve only been here for two minutes. I think it would be an awful feeling to go back to England next summer thinking that I could have gone out and seen more during my time here. 

To give you an example, a couple of weeks ago I went for what was meant to be a quick late lunch with my friends after all staying out late the night before. When lunch was over one of my friends suggested that we all head to look round the remains of ancient temple, which was a 20-minute walk from where we were. My initial thought was that I was too tired and that what I’d really rather do is have a nap at home. But then, in a split second decision, I realized that I did not come to Madrid for the year to take naps. So I perked up my enthusiasm and agreed it would be a good idea.

As it turned out, the area surrounding the temple gave way to the most incredible view of Madrid and you could see for miles—we were even lucky enough to get there just as the sun was setting, which was truly magnificent. Later on we headed out for dinner and, on the way, stumbled across a man playing ABBA beautifully on the pan pipes, which we listened to for a good half an hour. Walking home, I realized that I almost slept through what ended up being one of my favourite days in Madrid thus far. 

Now I’m not suggesting that you over-commit yourself to endless activities to the point that you get worn-out and run down. What I’m saying is that you really must consider taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. I know that even after only two months here so far I’ll already have so many fond, hilarious and sometimes just slightly strange memories to look back on when I return to England in seven months’ time.  

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Anna Matthews

Anna Matthews is a 21-year-old English Literature and Spanish student at the University of Leeds. She is currently undertaking and Erasmus study placement at the Universidad de Alcalá, just north of Madrid.


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