LIVING IN SPAIN
A lthough studying abroad can at times be challenging, it often brings about a life-changing experience with many positive benefits. Some of the most important things to bring with you to Spain are an open mind and a general knowledge of the country and city in which you will be studying. Read about and familiarize yourself with Spain's culture, history, geography and government before you arrive (you can find links to this information on our information for students page).
Arriving in Spain
The majority of students will arrive in the country by plane. Students will have to go through police controls (and should have their student visa stamped at entry) and customs. It is a good idea to change money at the airport banks or use the ATMs.
Once suitcases are secured and restricted areas abandoned, many programs will meet group flights and help students go to their lodgings. However, if there is no group flight, you will be arriving on your own and need to be well informed on how to get from the airport to your assigned lodgings. Programs should provide you with this information. The easiest (and often the best) option is to take a cab. Be ready to ask for a detailed receipt and understand all
charges since some cabbies take advantage of jet-lagged foreigners to overcharge them. There are often other transportation alternatives such as shuttles or commuter trains. Keep in mind the luggage you will be carrying and be wary of possible theft. Once established, you should review the various practical health and safety information you may come across. Make sure to address your concerns, from banking and cell phones to diversity and emotional issues. Most programs provide a helpful orientation meeting to discuss these questions and to assist students in the adaptation process.
Having an idea of what your personal, academic, and professional goals are will help minimize the effects of culture shock. Culture shock is the emotional and physical difficulties one has when moving to another country. It can be characterized by feelings of depression, anxiety, insecurity, irritability, insomnia and physical difficulties such as aches and allergies.
Culture shock occurs most often when one lacks prior knowledge of the country in which he/she will be living and especially when one has never traveled abroad before. This emotional and physical "roller coaster" usually occurs in five major stages:
Steps for Adjustment
1. Honeymoon: This is the first stage in which everything seems new and exciting when you arrive in a new place.
2. Culture shock: Culture shock settles in when you start to realize that you are in a different environment than what you are accustomed to.
3. Adjustment: You are beginning to adjust to the culture and language of Spain and are realizing that things are not as bad as you thought when you were coping with culture shock.
4. Continuous problems: At this point you begin to realize that there are some things about the culture that you will never like or get used to.
5. Comfort: Finally, you come to the point where you are comfortable in Spain and you do not want to go home!
Returning to Spain
After spending an extended period of time studying abroad in Spain, many students will be want to know how they can return to the country after they have graduated. Fortunately, there are many programs that offer scholarships and teaching grants for students wishing to return to teach English or further advance their studies in Spain. There are several programs that students should investigate.