Lili M. Exchange Ambassador
What is one word to describe your study abroad experience:
"I would never think twice to recommend the experience to a friend as I could never imagine my life now without having done this experience "
Exchange student at the University of Malaga, Spain
- What is the best thing that happened while you were studying abroad?
The best thing that happened while I was studying abroad would definitely have to be meeting some amazing people from all over the world.
- Where was the coolest place you travelled to during your study abroad experience?
Seville, Spain. It is a few hours away from the city of Málaga and was extremely beautiful.
- What was the biggest cultural adaptation you had to make?
The lifestyle of the Spaniards is very different than the lifestyle here in Canada. In Spain, it is very common that people go out and enjoy each other’s company every night regardless of it being a week-day or if they have to work or go to school in the morning. Spain is all about everyone co-existing together and enjoying life and enjoying the nightlife to the fullest. It was very different as here we usually wait until our work weeks are over to enjoy time with family and friends. This being said, it was also one of my favourite parts about studying in Málaga. Every night we would go out for dinner and for drinks and just have laughs and enjoy one another regardless of our future responsibilities. A saying that was common in Málaga was “no pasa nada” which translates to nothing happens, meaning no consequence is too big, or no problem is too big. The people in Málaga were very carefree and calm and seemed as though they wanted to enjoy life to the fullest.
- Who was the hardest person to leave from home? How did you deal with that?
The hardest people to leave from home were my parents as I am very close with them and I am an only child. I have never been away from my parents for 6 months and I was very worried that I would be homesick during my time in Spain. The way I dealt with this was finding amazing friends that turned into family while I was away. I think it’s really important to find your people when you go abroad. Find people who make you laugh, who make you happy, and who appreciate everything you are. Being away from home for so long can be extremely difficult so I believe it’s important to be around people who bring nothing but comfort and positivity to you during this time.
- Who was the hardest person to leave that you met while on exchange? How did you deal with that?
I found it extremely hard to leave my friends that I met on exchange. We had a group of about 8 and we had developed such a strong connection over the short time we knew each other. We spent almost every day together and we shared a lot of new experiences. We all grew as human beings and travelled to some of the most beautiful places together. We honestly became family over this time. I can’t say that I have figured out how to deal with this portion of my abroad experience quite yet, but we are all currently working on missing each other so much! We do still talk and sometimes video-chat when we can. We have planned another trip for next summer so that we will be able to all reunite and see each other again.
- What is something that you know now, that you wish you knew before you studied abroad?
Something I know now that I wish I would have known before studying abroad would be that it was going to be the best experience of my entire life and that it was going to change my life. Going into my abroad experience, I was extremely timid and cautious and feel as though I delayed my amazing experience in this way. I had a lot of anxiety as to whether I’d be able to make friends and if I’d feel comfortable or if I’d miss home too much. I wish I would have known before that I had the best 6 months of my entire life ahead of me so that I could have avoided all the stress and anxiety and went into the experience with a more bright and optimistic outlook.
- What was your best learning moment?
Uou should always try things and not be afraid of new situations or environments. Trying new things can lead you to life-altering experiences that help you grow and change your life for the better. This experience has definitely helped me become more confident and secure and helped me become the most authentic version of myself.
- If you were to recommend exchange to your best friend, what would you say?
If my best friend were debating on going on exchange or not, I would definitely tell them to do it! Without a doubt, it would be the experience of their entire life and there would never be another experience that could top it. You will meet the most incredible people, you will see the most beautiful places, you will get to experience a brand new culture — that you will most likely love, and you will find out who you are, the things you want and need. I would never think twice to recommend the experience to a friend as I could never imagine my life now without having done this experience.
- Would it be helpful to learn another language for this exchange?
Yes, I believe that it is crucial to know Spanish in order to study abroad in Málaga.
- Did you live on-campus or off-campus? Would you recommend it, and why?
I lived off-campus due to the fact that the Universidad de Málaga had many different campuses and your classes could range a lot in distance. It would be difficult to live on-campus when it was likely that my classes would not be in that area. It is also common for students in Málaga to live off-campus. I would recommend living off-campus for these reasons.
- How did you finance your study abroad experience?
My parents financed my study abroad experience.
- What interesting courses did you get to take while studying abroad? What was the title of the course(s)?
My favourite course I took while studying abroad was called Tratamiento de Psicologia which is a course that explains all the different theories of psychology and how the treatments work and what types of people they are targeted towards and how to conduct different therapies. It was extremely interesting and I feel as though I learned the most in this course.
- Is there any other helpful information that you would like to share with future study abroad participants?
It is highly recommended to know Spanish in order to be successful in Málaga. I speak Latin-American Spanish within my household and still had difficulty with the schooling in Spanish. I would also recommend future participants research how the grading system works in different programs as mine was extremely different than anything I had previously experienced in Guelph and it impacted my level of success.