Whether to go abroad or not go abroad – that is the question that is most likely puzzling your mind as you’re reading this post. Granted, leaving everything behind, and even more importantly – leaving your comfort zone – in order to travel oversees and learn a foreign language is an important decision. Nonetheless, the reasons for going abroad and the benefits to be reaped far outweigh any possible inconveniences. You’re well aware of this, but just in case you still need some convincing, here goes.
Most likely if you’re considering coming to Spain to study, you’re in the position to do so now, or foresee being in such a position in the not-so-distant future. This may very well be because you’ve just finished your studies, are in between jobs, or are at a crossroads in your life. Let me tell you: don’t put it off – it’s now or never. If you wait you’re likely to find very legitimate reasons as to why following your dream is not feasible or even plain reckless. The longer you wait, the more likely your life is to run its natural course resulting in obligations such as a ‘significant other’ or spouse, a mortgage, debts, your career path, or even children. All of these things are a normal and a necessary part of life which are to be embraced in due time. However, if you wait too long to act, your window of opportunity may close.
Spain: an invaluable experience
Anyone who has had the opportunity to live and study in Spain will attest to the fact that doing so is an absolutely invaluable experience. The main reason for this is, of course, the language. In today’s world – especially in America – Spanish is becoming more and more commonplace. As a result, those who have even basic language skills are way ahead of the rest of the pack when it comes to the job market. What boss isn’t going to be impressed by a candidate who can communicate in another language? And when it comes down to two CVs that are equal, but one of the potential employees has traveled and studied Spanish abroad, who would you choose?
Also, living oversees is an experience in and of itself. Being in a foreign country and experiencing life the way locals do is mind-blowing. In some ways of course, people and things are the same; in many other ways, however, they are dissimilar to the point that you might as well be on another planet, not just another continent. Despite the challenge this can pose, such an experience serves to open our mind and build character. You’ll find that you become more tolerant of the world around you and that you can appreciate other points of view – that complexes and stereotypes which bound you in the past will suddenly seem insignificant – that you can do anything you set your mind to – and all this just because of a mere change of latitude.
The Spanish lifestyle
As you probably know, Spain is famous the world round for its culture and the lifestyle of its inhabitants. Although stereotypes about some aspects of the culture are exaggerated or simply not true, there are many which will pleasantly surprise you. One of these such aspects is the food. Although people imagine Spanish food to be spicy and similar to Tex-Mex, it couldn’t be more different. In fact, Spanish dishes are very rarely spicy and have a distinct Mediterranean flavor, due to the abundance of olive oil and fresh produce here. Meal times are somewhat different, but much more sensible, as the biggest meal of the day is served around three o’clock in the afternoon, allowing you to eat heartily and still maintain (or drop to) your ideal weight. The wine, seafood, and even beef are some of the best in the world, and the majority of the time, are exponentially cheaper than in the United States. Even if it were just for the food, living in Spain would be worth it.
The social life in Spain is also outstanding. Although people do work long hours in many cases, they are not generally obsessed with work and adopt a more ‘work to live’ mentality, as opposed to the other way around. Thus, a great deal of emphasis is placed on personal relationships, be it on family or friends, and time is invested in fostering them. Taking a stroll through the center of Madrid in the afternoon midweek demonstrates this reality: you see people walking around, window shopping, having an ice cream, and just taking it easy. The advantages of a more relaxed and social lifestyle are many: not only do people live longer in Spain and with less stress than in the United States, but you never have to worry about ‘friends’ ditching your birthday party because they have to work late or go to the gym.
Did you know that Spaniards (and those of us foreigners who live here) have an entire month of paid vacation every year? Good luck with that in America, because as you well know, if you get ten days there you’re lucky! As a result of having so much vacation time annually, people definitely take advantage of the time to travel. After all, things are so close! In two hours by plane you can be in London, Paris or Rome, and for a lot less money than you might think. Furthermore, you can find somewhere decent to sleep in most European capitals for about the same price as a sleazy motel room in the US. And don’t forget that once in Spain, there are a seemingly infinite amount of places and things to visit without even leaving the country. If you want to see the world, this is definitely a good way to get started.
If you decide to come to Spain, it will undoubtedly be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. After all, it’s far better to regret something you did than something you didn’t. But what’s there to regret? Carpe diem, my friend.