Taylor Smith - 2014 Program Participant

Camel Riding in Tanger, Morocco

Riding a Camel in Tanger, Morocco.

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I wanted to enrich myself in another language through an immersion experience. I also wanted to have knowledge of the world around me and learn a new culture and way of life. In college, it is really your only opportunity to do something like this with no strings attached and have financial assistance, I would have been crazy to not take that opportunity.

What were your housing arrangements like during your summer studying in Spain?

I lived in a home stay. I had one other roommate in my room with me. We happened to go to the same University and be from the same town, but didn’t know each other. In our house we had our host mom, dad, and their daughter. They have a son that lived in Madrid and came to visit too.

What was a typical day like as a student in Spain?

A typical day was waking up, having breakfast and then walking 30 minutes to school. We had classes until about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. and then went home for lunch, a siesta, and then met up with our group for a cultural activity in the evenings before dinner.

Study abroad student with monkeys in Gibraltar, Morocco

Taylor hanging out with the monkeys in Gibraltar during her trip to Morocco.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while studying abroad in Spain?

Honestly, learning how to use a map and not rely on my phone to navigate me around. With not knowing the language fluently, it was hard sometimes to even ask for directions. I would walk around cities lost for hours because I took a wrong turn and just had to figure it out.

Why did you choose Sol Education Abroad over other study abroad program providers?

I chose Sol because I believed that it focused on giving its participants a cultural experience. They didn't take you to all the big tourist locations, they took you to the places that really defined Spanish culture.

Study abroad student near the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain

Admiring the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain.

What was the most memorable experience you had during your time abroad?

The traveling to other countries was really the best part for me. I was able to go to Portugal and Morocco and had a blast. On the Morocco trip, we stopped into the English settlement of Gibraltar. The monkeys there were trained to get onto peoples shoulders and interact with the tourists. I could not freaking wait to have a monkey on my shoulders. I admit, I pushed and shoved my way to the front since we were about to leave, but I got that picture and my trip was made.

If you could go abroad again, where would you go?

That is such a difficult question. Hopefully it is okay if I choose a top three. I would love to go to Thailand, South America, and other multiple places around Europe. Germany and Italy are the top ones.

Did you experience any kind of reverse culture shock when you came back to the U.S. from Spain?

The lack of walking and exercising that takes place in America really shocked me. Especially being from Texas. I can’t walk anywhere really. I have to have my car. I really missed that about the culture in Spain. Of course having English spoken to me was a large culture shock. My host mom only spoke Spanish, so I was happy to be back in the land of my first language. Also, siestas should totally be a thing in the United States!