Written by Sarah Terrazano
Liberal Arts Program, Spring 2018
My semester studying abroad in Madrid impacted my college experience more than any semester spent at my home university. Between being on my own in a new city, having the opportunity to travel, attending a new (and entirely Spanish-speaking) university, and going out of my comfort zone to meet new people—I became more self-confident, independent, and willing to take risks.
In a non-English-speaking country, I had to become comfortable practicing my Spanish and not worry about how my accent sounded or what I was saying wrong. A willingness to use Spanish whenever I could, not just in classes but also in a colloquial setting, allowed me to improve throughout the semester. I also joined a language exchange program at Carlos III, and was partnered with a Spanish student so I could help him with his English, and he with my Spanish. We still talk even now that the semester is over, and I’m grateful for that link back to my time in Madrid.
In opening myself up, I also met a lot of new people—both Spaniards and other Americans—and was lucky enough to make lasting friendships with other CIEE students on my abroad program. We got to first know each other through planned CIEE activities and day trips, and I’m still glad that I went on the sunset trip to Templo de Debod and met someone who became one of my closest friends in Madrid. The friends I made abroad were one of the greatest highlights of my semester, and we’re still in touch even now that we’re all back home.
In thinking about my plans post-graduation, I feel more confident and am not limiting myself to a typical post-grad trajectory. I’d love to go back to Spain, and am applying to programs to teach English there for the year after graduation. There’s nothing I’d trade about my semester abroad, and I can’t wait to visit Spain again!