I hope you are all out enjoying Columbia’s lovely Spring weather. I just returned home to the sun city of Madrid from my spring break trip through Central Europe. I think I can safely say that no jacket in my Columbia wardrobe would be fit for the chilly weather up there—props to brother Olivia surviving up in Norway.
Studying abroad has been nothing of what I expected but everything that I had hoped for. It sounds cliché but often I wake up high on life, literally smiling to myself as I open the doors to my balcony overlooking Madrid’s city center, excited for where I’m going to go, who I’m going to meet, and what I am going to learn that day. I live with one friend from USC and 7 other flat mates from all over Europe. Every Sunday, we have a tradition where one flat mate cooks a meal from their home country and we all sit down at the table together to eat and catch each other up on our weeks. Although so simple, seating nine people in our shoebox apartment has made me some of the best memories laughing around a table of different languages, personalities, and interests. Perfect places are not always physical, they are a mindset of doing what you love and loving what you do. “Ama lo que haces.”
So here’s my advice to you wherever you are…get out and create your perfect place! This advice can be applied both in and outside of the classroom while abroad. Challenge yourself to take a course like Age of Globalization or Geopolitics taught in a foreign language and I promise you will be amazed at your progress over the semester. One of my favorite ways to spend my free time in Madrid is to find new running routes with my flat mates. Even if running isn’t your thing, put in music and just walk around alone for a couple hours. Don’t have a destination in mind or even glance at a map, literally just wander wherever the streets take you and you’ll be surprised at the new cafes, parks, shops, views, people and other things you find. Abroad is one of the only times in your life where academic/work responsibilities are not priority, so unsubscribe from Netflix for the semester and use your time wisely.
Lastly, document your travels and experiences in a way that makes sense for you. Take time to record your thoughts and feelings as you grow throughout the semester so that you have something to look back and reminisce on—whether it be a journal, blog, or even an infamous finsta. For me this meant updating a weekly blog for close friends and family. It’s time-consuming to keep up with people back in the States, so offer them a way to keep up with you that won’t take away from your precious time abroad.
To the seniors: I sincerely wish you the best in your future endeavors. As you know, SOU won’t be the same without your graduating class but I am so excited to see what you move on to accomplish as SOU alum.
To the new pledge class: I look forward to getting to know you all and I hope that you’re just as excited to meet the brothers abroad as we are to meet you (some of them are pretty great if I do say so myself).
See you soon,
P.S: Three of my friends from England will be visiting America for a South Carolina GAMEDAY this September. They’ve heard all about you, so I expect everyone to bring their business professional and show them an appropriate SEC tailgate at the SOU tent.
I know the beginning of this month caused serious tension between some of you, and I hope that all the loyal Pats fans have begun to mend their broken hearts and restore their relationships. My month began with a trip to Prague, Bratislava, and Vienna, and besides constantly being cold, I had an amazing time. I’m thankful I'm not studying in Prague, though, because I would easily gain 20 pounds eating trdelnik after every meal. Maci and Skyler, godspeed. It’s hard to believe that I have already been living in Madrid for almost two months, and man, what a place to call home. I go to Retiro every chance I get, I am officially basic for how frequently I watch sunsets at Templo de Debod, I have fallen in love with croquetas and eat bocadillos for approximately 50% of my meals, and I have developed a moderate to severe addiction to cafe con leche. I have also met some incredible people here from all over the world, and it’s really cool to be able to relate to so many of them because I have a brother that has studied at their uni before or is studying there now. So, thanks for helping me make more friends. Oh yeah, my vocabulary has already adapted and I can’t wait to annoy you all by talking about my uni and my flat :). Speaking of my flat, one of my flatmates and I went on a trip to Morocco at the end of February and we ran into Ally and Cody while walking through the markets of Chefchaouen...casual right? I love visiting the places each of you fell in love with and having the opportunity to fall in love with them myself. I now understand why everyone that studies abroad (or should I say goes on exchange) has a constant desire to talk about it, but can never seem to find the right words to describe all that they saw and felt. I already know that I will face the same struggle when I come home but I am so excited to talk your ears off about how wonderful Madrid is. Until then, I hope your lives are still filled with puns and Chacos in my absence. I miss you all; don’t be strangers!!
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SOU Bros Abroad
This blog serves to highlight the experiences and tips that Brothers studying abroad have.