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A semester(-ish) in Leon, Spain- Hannah Suarez

Name: Hannah Suarez

Major: Chemistry and Spanish

Year: Sophomore

Program: Universidad de León

(Hannah is on the right!)

 

Why did you study abroad?

I decided to study abroad because one of my majors is Spanish so I wanted to immerse myself in the language and culture of a Spanish speaking country. I knew the best way to become fluent in a language was to speak it constantly.

Why did you choose this location?

I knew I wanted to go to Europe and Spain was the only option for Spanish. I specifically choose Leon Spain because the city seemed big enough where there would be stuff to do but small enough where it wouldn’t be full of tourists. If I would have went to a more touristic city people would have known more English but in Leon not many people knew English which forced me to use Spanish.

What was the best part of studying abroad/favorite experience?

The best part of studying abroad was the people I met including friends and professors. My roommates became like brothers and since they did not know much English I was forced to speak Spanish with them. My landlord was basically my mom there. She took me around the city and introduced me as her American daughter to so many people.

What did you struggle with/how did you overcome it?

I struggled the most with putting myself out there. I went alone from UWGB and was worried I would not make friends. It was surprising how fast I made friends and how close I became to them so quickly. Also going out and getting a bank account and phone plan all in Spanish was difficult because I felt like my Spanish was a mess, but the people were able to understand good enough and were happy to see someone trying their best.

Were you able to travel to other places?

I was able to travel to many other countries in Europe including France and Portugal. My university took us exchange students to other cities in Spain as well. Public transportation in Europe is huge so it was quick and easy to take a weekend vacation.

 

I had trips planned for almost every weekend either to a different country or different city but because of the coronavirus I was unable to finish my plans.

What advice do you have for those who want to study abroad?

Do it if you can! Don’t be afraid to get outside your comfort zone and try new things. You will not have another opportunity just like it again in your life.

What are the differences between home country and where you went?

  • SuarezgroupFree tapa (appetizer/small plate) with a drink at a bar
  • Walking everywhere instead of driving
  • More public transportation available and cheaper
  • Most places are closed in the middle of the day (2-5) for people to come home from work and eat or nap. Restaurants also close after lunch and reopen late for dinner since lunch is around 3pm and dinner is around 9pm.
  • Not many people smile when you walk by them. Everyone keeps to themselves

Overall studying abroad was an incredible experience that has changed my life forever. I was able to learn a new culture and language. I have made so many friends from all over and hope one day I will be able to see them all again.

 

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