Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.
Sam: Spain is loud, loud, loud, loud!
Spain has a very social culture with a highly active nightlife. All of the cafés and bars are open all day with crowds of screaming fans for each fútbol match, and most discotecas do not even open until two or three in the morning.
I lived with a host family of a two little sisters, a dad from Argentina, and a mom born and raised in the area, with my host-mom’s mom three blocks away and her three older brothers and their families nearby. There was never a dull moment.
I quickly learned that when you quietly and patiently wait for someone to finish their story, it is taken as though you were disinterested. Interrupting and occasionally talking over each other shows to the other that you are interested in what he or she has to say.
Do you feel you got a chance to see the city from a local's perspective?
Sam: I fortunately blended in a bit more than my blonde and blue-eyed friends, as a brown-eyed, dark-haired, average-heighted individual, and worked on my accent before heading over. I did not get targeted as a tourist as much as others and was able to relax a bit more with that advantage.
One of my proudest moments happened while traveling to Toledo and being asked if I was from Alicante. I also had a few individuals ask me for help navigating around Alicante who were surprised to learn afterwards that I was actually from Wisconsin and had only arrived a couple of months prior.
If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?
Sam: I would have taken it easy. My abroad experience opened my eyes to the art of taking it easy, but I didn’t learn it soon enough to prevent stress and lost opportunity.
I over-loaded my schedule with 21 credits, tutored and taught English classes, and had an hour-long commute each day, twice a day. I wish that I would have taken fewer credits so that I could have enjoyed the beach and played more games with my host family.
Due to the commute and having a very full course-load involving both morning and evening classes, I did not have enough time to leave campus during the day to head to the beach or travel as much in the beginning of the semester as I would have liked.
What was the best place you visited outside of your home-base city?
Sam: Altea, hands down. It was the first place that I traveled to outside of Alicante, and it was literally a breath of fresh air to get out of the city.
Altea is beautifully mountainous and on the sea. I had the best savory and sweet crepes served by the best waiter I had ever had the pleasure of meeting. There is a charming pottery shop that my friends and I fell in love with and the artsy owner let us see his workshop and told us some tales.
The architecture and plant life of Altea is gorgeous… it’s just lovely and holds a special place in my heart. Being only a metro ride away from Luceros, we naturally had to return.