Compiled by Madison Schulman
In this third installment, we asked the students if they’ve picked up any of the local language and if they’re feeling more comfortable in their host country. We also asked how they’ve adjusted to cultural differences, what they miss most about home, and their favorite place they’ve visited outside of their host country.
Cat Montgomery ’23—Madrid, Spain
Once I came to terms with how quickly this semester is flying by, I’ve pushed myself even more outside of my comfort zone. I’ve checked a few things off my bucket list—including taking a trip to Paris. Sitting on the lawn next to the Eiffel Tower and watching it sparkle (as it does for only 5 mere minutes, at the start of each hour between sunset and midnight!) made time slow down a bit. I’m so grateful for every experience here, and my ability to travel cheaply while in Europe.
Along with the fun times comes the uncomfortable, yet it’s helped me to grow as a person. I’m learning to not internally panic when someone fires Spanish words at me at the speed of light, but rather ask, “Más despacio, por favor,” to let them know I’m still learning. I love the culture here, even if it means that I can’t find the same foods at the grocery store or enjoy the same holidays like I would at home. I just recently traveled to Barcelona to check out the coast and realized how much I love this country. Building on my Spanish language knowledge is my favorite part because it’s so rewarding, even when it’s tough. Madrid is starting to feel like a second home—although I can’t wait to enjoy freshly baked cookies in my cozy, upstate New York home in December, with my dog at my feet.
Studying abroad in Spain or thinking about it? Read our guide to Madrid here.
Jaylin Couto ’24—Florence, Italy
I officially have one month left here in Italy! I cannot believe how fast time has gone by. I have so many mixed emotions about it. I am happy to go home and see my family, but I also love being abroad and learning new things. I know a little bit of the language, and can introduce myself and get around Italy without much navigation, unlike when I first got here.
I am definitely feeling more comfortable in this country, I feel very comfortable in the apartment and with my roommates and friends. I have traveled to a couple of places in the last few weeks such as Barcelona, Venice, and Paris. I realized that the tram/train systems are way easier to navigate here rather than being in Boston or New York. We had to take the train for some trips and even though it is in another language, it is pretty easy to figure out and very easy to transfer to and from. I have two more big trips planned, to Amsterdam and Switzerland, and then for the last weekend I am planning on a day trip to Milan in Italy. I have absolutely loved traveling and I am so glad I went to all the places I have been to because it really opened my eyes to how big the world is and how many different cultures there are.
I have to say Paris was definitely my favorite so far, but I know Switzerland will be just as beautiful. As for being home, it’s the same thing I’m missing really, I miss my family definitely, but I am really missing my teammates and sport back at home. I am so used to a routine with my sport that being here definitely gives me a lot of free time on my hands that I am not used to, so I am excited to get back into a routine with softball. All in all it is such a bittersweet experience because I would truly live here for another year if I could, but I also am so excited to be back in my home country with friends and family.
Olivia Reddish ’23—Cork, Ireland
Being based in Cork is great because the city is easy to navigate and everyone is so friendly. Luckily they speak English here so there is no language barrier, which is great. One cultural difference I can't wrap my head around is french fries are called chips here, but other than that there aren't too many differences. One of my favorite things about being abroad is having the opportunity to travel to other European countries. I love seeing new places and experiencing new cultures. The past two weekends I was in Amsterdam and Barcelona! The two cities were both so different but both so beautiful. I can't wait to visit them again someday. I am not too homesick because we have been so busy with traveling and my internship but I am excited to show my friends and family around Cork when they visit!