As part of my Spanish degree, I had to spend the third year of my course studying in Spain or Latin America. At the start of second year, we were given a talk on studying abroad and a list of possible destinations. I wanted to go to a big city with a lively nightlife and a beach, so the University of Valencia, which was my first choice, sounded like the perfect option. I soon began to find out as much about Valencia as I could and I got in touch with a girl from my university who was living in Valencia to get a few tips. She was very helpful, telling me where the best places to live were.
Arriving in Valencia 抵达巴伦西亚
My course didn’t actually start until the end of September, but I flew out to Valencia a few weeks in advance[预先] to sort out[挑出] my accommodation[住处].
The first thing I did on arrival was to go to the International Students Office. They gave me a welcome pack and told me the things I needed to do in the next few days, such as contacting my personal tutor[指导教师] and getting a copy of the module list[课程表].
The most important thing was to find somewhere to live. I bought myself a Spanish mobile, and equipped with the flat list from the university accommodation office, I began to make some calls to landlords.
I was very lucky with my accommodation. The second flat I looked at was perfect. It was a modern, well-furnished flat a five-minute walk from uni[即university], and I’d be living with a Spanish brother and sister, Alejandro and Paula. It was also just around the corner from the Valencia football ground, so I had very much landed on my feet[幸运,安然脱险].
I moved in two days later and it was a good feeling to have a place sorted out without too much hassle[麻烦].
It was strange at first living with people I didn’t know, and we were all dealing with new circumstances[环境] as Alejandro and Paula were both in their first year of university. They were both a bit younger than me; Paula was 18 and Alejandro 19, but we still got along well. They were very friendly and welcoming.
Alejandro and Paula were also very forgiving of my numerous mistakes with the language, but the more and more I practised, the better my language became.
Starting My Course 课程开始
Two weeks later, I registered[登记] for my course and started going to lectures. It was really difficult to concentrate at first, and I could only really pick up on bits and pieces[零碎]. Over time though, as my Spanish improved, it became a lot easier and a lot more interesting. I made friends with the other Erasmus注1 students in my classes. It was difficult to get to know the Spanish students, as most of them had already formed their own groups of friends and stuck to them. I did meet a few friendly Spanish people, but the vast majority of my friends were other exchange students. On reflection, I think the best way to make friends with the local students is either to involve yourself in one of the sports teams, or to go to the Erasmus society at your uni and meet locals from your destination before you go.
Coping Whilst Abroad 人在他乡
I didn’t really experience too much of a culture shock as I learnt a lot about the country through my degree, but there were a few things that still took me by surprise, such as the laid-back[懒散的] attitude of the people. It meant life moved in general at a slower pace, which could be frustrating at times, but I soon grew to love it.
I didn’t miss home too much as I kept in contact with family and friends online through Skype注2. It was also easy to get a cheap flight back for the weekend if I fancied[想象] a weekend of home comforts. However, I was almost always busy, so I never really dwelled on[细想] homesickness for long. My family came over a few times to visit, and it was always good to have a fresh perspective[看法,观点] on the city, as they would appreciate things about Valencia I hadn’t noticed or took for granted.
I have many fond memories of Valencia: the days spent sunbathing on the beach, the gorgeous food and the festivals. I’ll definitely go back for a weekend with all the friends I made out there, and I hope to keep in touch with my Spanish friends too. I thoroughly recommend[推荐] studying abroad. Although it may seem tough early on, the chances are you’ll have a great time.