Today, we speak with Samantha from Samanthaenroute, who shares ways we can foot our travel bills in non-English speaking countries, and the extraordinary connections we make through meeting ordinary people on the road!
1. What’s your name, age, occupation and country you are from?
My name is Samantha, I’m 26 years old and from the USA. I blog over at http://samanthaenroute.com.
2. Why did you decide to study overseas?
I was in my fourth and final year of my undergraduate, getting a BA in Psychology and minoring in Spanish. I was just about to apply for graduation when I thought that maybe I could utilize my Spanish minor a little bit. I never thought I’d have time to study abroad but always dreamed of it, so I decided to take a fifth year and study abroad in Spain. The best part was that because I had already been learning Spanish for four years and I had all my graduation requirements done, I could focus on traveling and improving my Spanish instead of worrying about taking hard classes while there. So I took easy classes all in Spanish, lived with local students who spoke no English, and visited a new city each weekend!
3. In which country did you study and how long?
I studied in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It’s in the northwest (where the rain mainly stays!) and was perfect because it truly felt like another country. Some bigger cities, like Madrid, have become so commercialized and English-speaking, so I’m really glad I chose a smaller city. I lived there for nine months, which was the toughest but best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
4. Share a favourite photo taken while you were studying abroad!
5. Have you done something during this trip that surprised yourself?
I had never considered travelling solo before, but I’ve always been a bit of an introvert, so when nobody wanted to come to Rome with me for spring break (really) I was more than happy to go by myself! It was the best week of my life because I got to plan everything I wanted to do without having to worry about others and I learned that I can make it in a foreign country, without knowing anyone or even the language, on my own and be just fine.
6. What was the best thing that happened to you on this trip?
It was amazing visiting a new city every weekend, but the best part was visiting several family members and making lifelong friends from all over Europe. I visiting cousins/aunts/uncles in England, Switzerland, and even in Murcia, Spain – having that familial connection ended up being super important and I miss them all terribly. I’ll also never forget movie nights with my roommates and visiting their amazing families, going to clubs with all the other foreign students, and getting our daily tea or ice cream after teaching English to little brats (we all took a small job with one English school – it paid my rent!).
7. How did you overcome a challenge that you faced while you were overseas?
I got homesick after a couple months and was having trouble adjusting. I just told myself that I wouldn’t be there forever and to make the most of it. Eventually, of course, I grew to love it and now that I haven’t been in Santiago for a few years I miss it terribly and would love to go back. My main thing was to just keep myself looking forward to something, so I made sure to have somewhere to travel every few weeks and it kept my spirits up.
8. What’s your favourite travel website, whether it be for travel planning or travel inspiration?
I follow several travel blogs but I have to shout out to my girl Richelle at www.adventuresaroundasia.com. I need to get to East Asia and I love reading her posts about her life in Beijing and fun (and not so fun) she’s had since she’s been there. She’s just so honest and relatable and it makes for such a fun read.
9. If you had 2 tips you could share from your study abroad experience to students feeling apprehensive about taking this leap, what would they be?
Just do it. What do you have to lose? You don’t have to stay for the whole year and it’ll be over before you know it. Everyone I know who didn’t study abroad says that they wish they did, and I’m so glad I made that decision.
Another tip to help get excited, assuming you’ll be in Europe, is to check out how cheap it is to fly to your favourite cities. You probably don’t need as much money as you think, and if you go to a non-English speaking country it’ll be super easy to get a small English gig to help pay off travel bills. Stay in hostels, take RyanAir, pack light, and you can get around with confidence that you won’t break the bank.
Student Travel Series seek to showcase travel stories from students, for students. The aim of this series is to inspire more youths and students to take the leap and discover a world outside of your own!
What do you feel about Samantha’s story? Let us know below!