I hope you all are doing well! I’ve been in Madrid for close to 4 weeks now, and they honestly have been some of the most enjoyable and eye-opening weeks of my life. I think I’m going to be one of those people that comes back and has to be forced to stop talking about their experience abroad (@Madi Lawton). Way less people in Madrid speak English than I had expected, but it’s forcing me to use my Spanish every day, and I’m thankful for that. I firmly believe that learning a new language is the #1 thing you can do to open yourself up to new opportunities and experiences. Example: today, I got a haircut and my eyebrows done (I always do it the same day so I feel fresh), and I did it entirely in Spanish. I actually debated this for a couple days because I had read online that there were some decent English-speaking options for these services (keyword: “decent”). Then, I noticed that there were two places within a 10-minute walk to me that both had five stars on Google. Specifically, they had over 100 reviews and legitimately 5.0 stars out of 5.0. The catch? No English. I was very nervous because, although I am pretty confident with my Spanish skills, I didn’t want to give them incorrect guidance. However, I took the risk and it DEFINITELY paid off; the haircut was easily the best one I’ve ever had. There are also so many amazing places to eat here, including an amazing taco place where the tacos are like 2000 times better than Cantina’s and only 1 euro each, as well as a churro place that’s famous for its chocolate dip and is open 24 hours. My coffee habits have actually improved since I’ve been here, but last week I found this tiny coffee place (it’s literally one small room with no places to sit) a three-minute walk from where Betsy and I go to school; I think she can agree that it’s one of the best cups of coffee we’ve ever had. Speaking of Betsy, Ally and I (among others) celebrated her 21st birthday the other night. NIBS, our mom is legal!! Jordan and Hannah came to visit a few days before that, and of course it was great to see them too. To wrap this up, here’s a study abroad tip I want to share with you all, especially because I think it’s applicable in Columbia, SC as well: Explore new places on your own. Especially if you’re in a European city, public transportation is incredible and can basically take you anywhere (Madrid’s metro system has over 120 stops). I’ve spent countless hours looking on Google Maps for a cool coffee shop, park, scenic area, etc. and then just going there and walking around. When you’re alone, you pay much more attention to what’s going on around you and notice things you wouldn’t otherwise. I miss you all and hope you do so many great professional, cultural, and social things while I’m gone! If any of you have questions or just want to chat, feel free to reach out; I’d love to hear from you.
Hello from Oslo!
I want to begin by saying that I miss each of you, and I hope that this semester is wonderful for everyone!
Things are going well here in Norway; it’s a little chilly, not gonna lie, but I’m all settled, and my classes are off to a good start. Nothing has come easily, though. My first day in Oslo, I nearly stressed myself to death trying to navigate the public transit and get to my apartment before it got dark (which is about 3:30 PM here). It’s also a challenge leaving people and places I love behind in another hemisphere, especially since FOMO real, but I’ve learned to live with BOWMO—Being Okay With Missing Out. The thing that matters the most for the next five months is being resilient and internalizing every meaningful experience I have. I know that while I’m here, I have the chance to do great things like getting a unique educational perspective, seeing beautiful works of art, and adventuring into the vastness of Europe. More importantly, though, I’ve learned to love the little things about being abroad. To name a few—finding Norway’s version of Nutella, FaceTiming with my roommate in the US to watch SNL because I don’t get NBC here, and seeing the beautiful sunrise on my commute to class. The little things that remind me of home have helped me find a home in Oslo.
That being said, being abroad is awesome, as many of you already know. My school has a significant number of international students, so it’s very interesting to have conversations with many people I’ve met here. My favorite thing I’ve done so far is “sledging,” which felt as if I was sledding in the X Games, and I’m super excited about finally getting to downhill ski here. Life is good, and I have to thank an amazing brotherhood that’s helped me prepare for life in another country.
Here’s to the rest of the semester! Skol!
Hey brothers! I first want to start with how grateful I am for this organization that is so heavily focused on cultivating global leaders through the form of study abroad, because this adventure has been absolutely incredible. I have met so many amazing people from around the world, and have been able to learn about their experiences up until this point. Even though you start this adventure alone, you get to meet so many different people who also started where you were when you stepped off the plane. Since I landed in Germany on January 3rd, I feel like I have not been able to sit still. I attended my first Füßball game in Germany, where I was able to see Borussia Dortmund play. The atmosphere was insane, and it definitely gave Willy B a challenge. I then ventured to Brussels, Belgium where we explored the beautiful city and got to tour European Parliament. Other than that, this first month abroad has really been learning more about the country and culture of Germany by touring castles (since there is a castle about every 5 miles), learning the beauty of the train system here, admiring the beauty of the Rhine, and of course tasting all of the beer. Don't worry, I've also been attending class. The classes here are amazing, and are taught by some of the most renowned business people. Class itself is honestly a great networking opportunity. I am really looking forward to these next three months of travel, school, and having the best time of my life. I really miss every single one of you, but adventure calls. Best of luck this semester, and I look forward to seeing you all in May!
- AJ Guffey
SOU Bros Abroad
This blog serves to highlight the experiences and tips that Brothers studying abroad have.