Thursday, 22 June 2017

The last day in Madrid...


It is my LAST DAY in Madrid :( I don't know how to explain how incredible this experience has been...the scariest/most exciting decision of my life has turned in to something which I will never forget.

Exams finished a few weeks ago and since then Rachel and I have been doing all the things we have on our bucket list before we leave- a pretty monastery called San Lorenzo de el Escorial, hiring bikes (last week we cycled to the club when the metro had closed...), discovering Madrid Rio, and taking as many trips as humanly possible to the outdoor pool in Lago. Basically making the most of the 40 degree heat (which is hard when you feel like you are going to pass out every time you step outside).

We also went on a mini hol to Granada (which was EVEN HOTTER). I would 100% recommend a visit there, it was sooooo beautiful and had a very Moroccan feel to it. On the bus on the way there the aircon had broken, which was slight torture on a small vehicle with 30 other people, but we made it through and made some friends on the way through bonding over the immense heat. We also got to visit some caves in the mountains of Granada which was soooo much fun! There were real life cavemen who showed us around their cave and gave us some watermelon to enjoy the amazing views...

Also our friends Harika and Karina came to visit us for our final trip to the North of Spain...we went to San Sebastian for two nights and Harika and I went on to Bilbao for a few days. We also went to the south of France for the day on the train, a cute little place on the coast called St Jean de Luz. We had some amaaaazing French food. It was nice to feel a bit of sea breeze instead of the mugginess of Madrid! Although we had a slight disaster when we were about to go to sleep one night and the host of the airbnb came in to the turned out that he was staying there too- a bit of a shock at 2am!! So take it from us and always make sure you check everything before you book an apartment!

I'm sure I will be holding back the tears on that plane tonight as I leave this beautiful city...but of course, I am so excited to see my family/friends/boyf again (and have my first Greggs chicken bake in 5 months!!!)

Also I am absolutely certain that this is not the last of my Erasmus blog posts (of course not, what else will I have to talk about?!) keep an eye out for some more soon- including a big list of everything you need to pack for a semester abroad...that one is gonna take me a while.

Hasta luego en Derby,

Anna x

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Studying abroad in a relationship- can it work?


I am writing this on a bus (just like the old days when i used to write them on the way to school....)

I am on the way back from Toledo, a small town south of Madrid. I went with two girls from Guatemala, one of whom I am doing a 'language tandem' with, so she helps me with spanish and I help her with English. Today was a Spanish practice day, so I have been speaking spanish non-stop since brain is frazzled and I am surprised I can write this in English...

This post is about being in a relationship whilst studying abroad. Ooooh. I remember I did one of these posts when I started Uni and for some reason it was one of my most viewed blogs! Looking back I can't believe I even did a whole blog post about essentially 'how to survive living an hour away from your boyfriend'. How easy that seems now the distance is more than 6 hours altogether...When I get back to Sheffield in September the hour distance will practically be like living next door.

Not tooooo far then...
When I first decided that I was going to study abroad around January last year, I think my boyfriend was a bit worried, shocked and in disbelief that I would ever move so far away from home. But as I started filling out forms and going to meetings (sometimes dragging him along...), it all started to seem very real. And exciting. And bloomin' scary.

I must say though I never had any doubts that we wouldn't make it through. I have friends in long distance relationships which are way further away- take England and Zimbabwe for example!!- and they are amazing at making it work. Also, my friend Rachel who I came to Madrid with has a boyfriend too (and one time they flew here together!) so being in the same boat as someone else really helps.

Obviously a lot depends on how often you will get to see each other. My boyfriend first visited after 2 weeks...which in hindsight, was too soon. Rachel and I only managed to find a house a few days before he arrived! I'm not gonna lie, I spent the first 2 days crying because he made me realise how homesick I was, and the last 2 days crying because I didn't want him to leave. And of course the dramatic goodbye in the airport with me stood there sobbing didn't help. Mainly down to be being an emotional wreck though.

If I can offer one piece of advice: don't drop them (or any of your visitors for that matter) off at the airport!!! It is traumatic!

I think it's important to settle in yourself before you have any visitors, and the same goes for starting University anywhere.

Mini hol in Valencia
Callum has since visited every month, apart from April when I went home. The time between seeing each other is 4/5 weeks, which is actually so lucky- so many other couples living in the same country don't even see each other that much.

Also, communication is a big one when you're living abroad. The timezones are only an hour apart but it does make a difference- we lead completely different lives. My boyfriend gets up at 6am for work, goes to sleep at 10pm...In Spain I get up at 8/9am (if i make it to uni...), sometimes have a siesta, and eventually sleep at 2am. Leading such different lives is hard to get used to; but like anything it just takes time. The usual things always help; a long skype chat every week, always keeping up to date with what the other person is up to, sending letters, watching TV shows together...

A lot of Erasmus students I've met in Spain are in relationships. Some of them have ended, but many have survived it- and it is totally feasible. So if you want to study abroad but you are in a relationship, please don't let it hold you back. Any half decent boyfriend/girlfriend will support you in following what you want to do. The worst thing I heard someone say as a reason for not going on Erasmus was "I'm in a relationship, so I can't". Of course, you may have doubts, but they shouldn't stop you from doing something which you are passionate about. Plus, it's fun! We have seen so many things together that we wouldn't have back at home- the Real Madrid team celebrating their Champions League win, a throwback to being 13 year olds at a Busted gig, spending Valentine's Day in the beautiful city of Valencia, eaten more paella and drank more sangria than you could ever imagine...

....Why not??

I hope you enjoyed this post!

You can vote for me as UCAS' Blogger of the Month here!

Anna x