Universidad Castilla La Mancha – Toledo, Spain
I studied abroad in Toledo, Spain, for my entire sophomore year. I chose Spain because I wanted to learn and observe Spanish Culture without American influence. My goals before going abroad were to improve my Spanish, to learn about the culture and to travel. I was fortunate enough to get more out of the trip than I bargained for.
I lived in a private residential dorm in Casco Toledo (the old part of the city). The dorm where I stayed is primarily for Spaniards, I was one of nine international students in the dorm. It was a great experience because I was thrown into an environment that forced me to speak Spanish and to get to know Spaniards. The lack of opportunities to speak English and the immersion is without a doubt the reason that my Spanish improved exponentially.
All of the classes that I took were in Spanish and with Spaniards, there was no separation or distinction made between native and foreign. I was graded and treated as though I was a Spaniard, and that made all the difference to me. My hand was not held, advice and clarification would be given if needed, but all of my work was my own and I was graded on the same level as everyone else. I was able to take classes that counted for my major in everything from International Economy to Literature of the Sixteenth Century and Phonetics.
Things to Do
Toledo is full of things to do. The University has different clubs that students can participate in, similar to what we have at UNCG. There are also classes like Salsa, Flamenco and Capoeira that can be taken from the University. Between the different historical sites, museums and religious festivals and parades that are held, it’s rare to be bored in the city.
Toledo is an hour away from Spain’s capital, Madrid, which made traveling very easy. Some of the places I was able to go within Spain were; Bilbao, San Sebastín, Cuenca, Salamanca, Barcelona, Cádiz, Mota de Cuervo, Madrid, Aruanjuez, Consuegra, and Segovia. The only place I traveled to outside of Spain was Berlin, Germany. It is really cheap to travel within Europe, and even more so within Spain.
Toledo changed my life. I never would have thought that a city could make me fall in love, and that an experience could teach me so much about myself. I learned that I can make it on my own. That determination and perseverance can make all the difference between success and failure. I gained more control over my life and a clearer head. I have stronger skills in Spanish and am now more willing to speak up and make a mistake so that I can learn than I was before. New experiences are exciting to me, I did things in Toledo that I never thought I would. I ate chicken stomach and intestines, I played with bulls and most importantly I lived in a completely different culture and succeeded. I’ve literally grabbed a bull by its horns, and now know that any challenge can be met.