Lisbon. Barcelona. Sevilla. Rome. Budapest. Morocco. What do all of these places have in common? I’ve been there!
It was always my dream to study abroad as an attempt to quench my thirst for travel, and I chose Madrid to be my home base for the semester, a place to call home. I have my favorite coffee shop, I know where the best restaurants are, and I’ve claimed a studying tree at the local park. But one of the best parts of studying abroad has been the chance to travel beyond my host city and even beyond my host country and explore new cultures.
I was extremely lucky in the fact that my school did not have classes on Fridays, so I had the opportunity to travel during extended weekends. In fact, when I arrived in Madrid, I had no intention of travelling during the weekends at all, except for maybe small day trips around Spain. My plan was to save the scholarship money I had been awarded and travel all around Europe for three weeks after the semester ended. However, when I arrived in Madrid, my plans changed in an instant for two reasons. First off, all of my roommates (all 7 of them!!) already had flights booked for weekend travel and I felt like I wasn’t fully taking advantage of my time abroad if I didn’t travel during weekends as well. Second, about 2 weeks after I moved to Madrid I received additional and unexpected scholarship money that made extra travel possible.
Even beyond just travelling, I urge every student studying abroad to take a trip on their own at some point. I understand that travelling on your own can be scary, but it is also incredibly liberating. I gained a sense of independence and self-reliance through individual travel that I could not have developed any other way, and my favorite trips were actually those that I took on my own. I could go where I wanted when I wanted without worrying about accommodating other people or worrying that someone else was enjoying their trip. I wish that sense of freedom and exploration on everyone that studies abroad.
Now, I understand that not everyone has the means to travel beyond their host city while abroad. However, if presented with the opportunity to travel and explore other cultures, I strongly encourage everyone to do so. And if you can’t go on big trips, take day trips, go to the next town over, or just discover a new neighborhood. Push your boundaries and explore! I promise you won’t regret it.