To Study Outside My Country or Not?
By: Leyre Martín Claudio
Hello! My name is Leyre, I am a Spanish girl from Toledo, who went to study Sports Science (Kinesiology) in an American University for a semester and I am going to tell you about my experience of living in a foreign country.
At first, it can be a little scary since you face an unknown world, you have to be prepared for what comes and adapt to totally different customs and traditions. You have to start from 0. If you come alone, you have to make all new friends. You may have a fear of speaking the language of the country that you are going to. You may have many doubts about whether they will understand and if you can communicate what you're thinking about in their language. All of this is a great change, so it is totally normal to have a little fear or respect for the unknown, but I assure you that it will be worth it. When you leave your comfort zone, you have many opportunities to learn new things. For me, studying in the US was the best experience of my life and although it cost me a lot of time to earn enough money and I had to go a long time without seeing my family, boyfriend, and friends, I do not regret anything at all. In fact, I would repeat it without any doubt. The experiences I had were incredible.
First of all, the friendships I made. I had the opportunity to make friends from all over the world: Russia, India, Japan, Italy, France, China, Germany, Australia, the USA, and many more countries. Thanks to them, I was able to learn surprising things from other cultures like for example that in India, they eat very spicy food, and instead of drinking water to cool the heat (which they are already very used to) they drink yogurt and it really works. I did not know it and the first time I tried a little spicy Indian food I drank like 3 glasses of water in a row because I could not stand the spicy haha. I even tasted popular dishes from other countries such as samosas (India), bubble tea (Taiwan), arepas (Colombia), or the typical American Thanksgiving turkey. This was one of the most impactful experiences that helped me to grow more as a person.
There is a unique beauty in seeing so many diverse cultures living together in the same place. I felt immediately accepted by international and local students. In the US, people treat you the same wherever you go, they don’t discriminate against you for being a foreigner, and many people are curious to learn more about your home country.
Secondly, this experience of studying at an American university made me see another style of teaching very different from what I was used to in my country. In the US, it was easier for me to acquire knowledge and enjoy learning. Evaluations in most Spanish universities is through an exam at the end of the semester (every subject has its own exam), where you have to study all the units covered in that semester, and in case of failure, we have another opportunity with a recovery exam at the end of the course. In this way, we have more time to enjoy the duration of course, but the bad thing is that in this way many students only study a week or a couple of days before the exam date. In contrast, at my American university, by taking exams every week or every two weeks, you force yourself to study every day and this allows you to acquire new knowledge little by little and more easily than studying all the units of the subject the week before the exam, as it is in Spain. But something very positive to highlight from Spanish universities, at least in my major (Sports Science), is that we make journals in most of the subjects. In these journals, we write down all the activities we did and with some comments on how they could be improved, which is very practical and useful for the future. I can apply those same exercises in my future jobs. Therefore, which methodology is better? In my opinion, they are both beneficial, so maybe it depends more on what an individual prefers depending on their personality.
Third, I liked the great opportunity to travel. Living in the US, traveling between states was so much cheaper than traveling from my own country to these places. So on many weekends, I went on trips with my new friends or even alone, something that I also recommend for taking away the fear of going alone and to live new adventures. The various states were: Myrtle Beach (South Carolina), Miami Beach (Miami), Disneyworld in Orlando (Florida), Washington D.C., NY, Hawaii, Toronto (Canada), and many more spectacular places. If you want to know more about my incredible experience or if, like me, you are an exchange student, you can ask me your questions on my Instagram @ Leyre.mc. Thank you so much for reading and enjoy your new experiences and adventures!!