Scholarship Recipients Highlight
Fall 2021 Eufemia Sanchez de la Calle Scholarship Recipient
How did receiving the Eufemia Sanchez de la Calle scholarship affect your study abroad experience overall?
I am very grateful to have received the Eufemia Sanchez de la Calle scholarship because it assisted me in paying for expenses such as a regional train pass, rent, and groceries. The scholarship also provided me with some additional financial breathing room to say yes to some incredible opportunities, such as professional soccer games and weekend trips around Europe.
COVID (and the resulting regulations) are still prevent all over the world today. How did you personally navigate this difficult time abroad?
While the pandemic certainly affected my day-to-day routine, I was still able to adapt to the circumstances of my study abroad experience. For example, my friends and I would often have picnics in parks or go on hikes in the nearby mountains for some outside activities. I was also grateful that Spain’s COVID curve was on the downhill for most of my time abroad so I could experience the restaurants, art museums, and other inside activities. Travelling outside Spain sometimes presented a hurdle, though, especially towards the end of my time abroad. However, many countries have similar websites to the CDC of the U.S. if you hope to travel somewhere but need more information!
How did you make the most of your experience overall?
If I could suggest one tip, it would be to join a group/club/organization that you’re interested in and go consistently. Some examples could be language exchanges or book clubs in cafes, recreational sports, art classes, spiritual groups, etc. For me, it was joining a rock-climbing gym and playing pick-up soccer, which helped me meet some of my best local friends and a diverse group of folks along the way.
I also personally chose to prioritize language immersion while in Madrid, throwing myself into a fully Spanish curriculum and living with a host-family. While I was definitely in some high water in the beginning, I gradually picked up the language—it was cool to laugh with my Spanish roommates, not because of my embarrassing yet hilarious language errors, but because I actually understood their jokes! I also chose to attend a Spanish university, rather than a more popular option like SLU-Madrid, because I hoped to be surrounded by mostly Spanish students.
What lessons have you learned from your host country, and your study abroad experience?
I think I’m still processing many lessons I’ve learned from my experiences in Madrid! However, one important and underappreciated lesson I want to emphasize is taking time for yourself, especially during the first few weeks. After about a month abroad, I hit a wall of physical exhaustion and realized I hadn’t taken a day or night for myself in weeks. Spending a weekend night in your room can be a huge benefit to your general wellbeing—treat your mental health abroad in the same manner as you would back home!