By Molly Pickard
In a big city, sometimes it becomes easy to be accustomed to a fast paced life style. You might forget to slow down and take it your surroundings, and for a study abroad student, not realize how beautiful the city is. Growing up in a small town, it took me a little while to fit in with all the other city folk. For the first couple of weeks whenever I was walking somewhere I was always looking up at the buildings, much like one would do in New York City. However, once I knew my way around better, I would just walk without really taking in all the beautiful sights. One day when walking home from school on my usual route, I noticed that one of the small plazas had all new tents and vendors set up. Since I was in no rush I decided to stop by and check it out, and turned into an awesome day. I called my roommates and other friends and we spent the afternoon walking around this flee market and afterwards got ice cream and rested right in the park nearby. You start to notice different things the city has to offer when you take a second to see what’s around you.
Another great place in Madrid to go to in order to escape the city life style is the city’s biggest park, Retiro Park. The park has row boats that you can take out onto the lake or relax on the grass for a picnic lunch. Both of these activities became rituals for my friends and I while there. Sunday afternoons can become lazy days but if you get up and explore you can avoid most of the tourist crowds on Saturday and really seem more of the cities you’re in. We used to borrow some blankets from our host mom, grab some fresh bread and cheese (classic Spanish foods), a couple bottles of wine and go sit in the park for a couple hours and talk and enjoy the park scenery. It was a great way to relax and get out of the city to get some fresh air.
Once you feel like you’re settling in, make sure you take a chance to look around! Make sure you take advantage of everything there is around you while you’re abroad.
By Alli Celli, LDM in Florence, Fall 2012
Living in a homestay in another country for 4 months can be an extremely intimidating and frightening thought. However, it can also be the best decision you will ever make. For me, it was. I lived with an Italian family in Florence and it was the best experience of my life. I won’t lie and tell you that I was comfortable from the moment I walked in the door because I wasn’t. My host parents barely spoke English and I did not speak Italian, so you could imagine the charades we played. Living with a host family that did not speak English really motivated me to learn the Italian language. By the end of the semester my host family was shocked at how I would carry conversation and so was I! I wouldn’t have had the same experience if I had not lived with a host family. I highly recommend it to any student studying abroad and if that didn’t convince you, just think about the home cooked meals you’ll get!