The Best Way to Enhance Junior Year Abroad or Overseas Experience

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982

I had been given a lot of advice about how to have a great year abroad experience back in the day.  I was told to, “Do what the Spanish do. If they are sitting in cafes, sit in a café with them.”  That was good advice. It definitely showed me a lot about the people. But, another of the ways I tried to enhance and enrich my junior year abroad in Spain was to do activities I had been doing at home while overseas. This helped me to not get too homesick and had the added benefit of allowing me to be comfortable and confident doing something when everything around me, including the language, was new! Two of my favorite activities at the time were aerobics (including water aerobics) and swimming. I had arrived in Pamplona, Spain for the start of my study abroad program in August with several other Americans. The weather was hot, dry, and sunny. We were wandering around the city looking for someplace to sit outside and and soak up the warm rays of the Sun. Well, at that time, you could not actively sunbathe in any of the parks or plazas or a policeman would come and tell you to stop. So, at some point, we found an outdoor pool. I can’t remember many details, just that there were showers as you exited the ladies locker room that were running, and you couldn’t avoid them. So you got showered off no matter what. And, all of your belongings got wet. I also remember beautiful mountains in the distance. It was a nice pool, and I remember loving it there. But I’m really foggy on the details. Today I think, it was so “me” of me to find a pool. Here is a link to a post of mine about another trip to Spain and the pool I found there.  

In addition to finding the pool, the other way I tried to keep up a familiar routine and enhance my experience, was to sign up for an aerobics dance class. I don’t know how I found out about it. But, I did and I signed up. The teacher’s name was Conchi. I can still picture her. The class was called Danza Aerobic and covered more dance styles than a U.S. aerobics class would have.  Also, it wasn’t as intense as the American classes I was used to, but I really enjoyed it. We did some Tango and other Spanish dances mixed with a dance-style aerobics. I had been taking group exercise and aerobics at home since middle school, so it was cool to take a similar class while abroad. I didn’t start taking Danza Aerobic until my Spring semester, but I kept it up for several months. It was a good mix of the familiar and the different, and I feel really enhanced my year abroad experience.

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at


2 thoughts on “The Best Way to Enhance Junior Year Abroad or Overseas Experience

  1. Great advice! I did the same thing when I went abroad. I participated in dance classes, sang in a choir, and even tried some new things like swing dancing and trampoline. Not only did I meet new people, I had things to talk about with people besides where I was from and why I was living in Germany. It so helped me feel like I was living a real life rather than just being a visitor. Thanks for participating in the #MyGlobalLife Link-Up!

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