Studying abroad in a normal academic year is already an incredible experience, but partnered with a pandemic, it can be daunting to juggle academics, cultural experiences, and your health and safety. However, living abroad while maintaining an equilibrium between these is completely manageable!
"If you’re looking forward to studying abroad in the coming months, you have nothing to worry about. With the help of CEA onsite staff and advisors, I’ve been able to have a safe and educational study abroad experience!"
Of course, my travel experience has been limited, but this has allowed me to become familiar with the city and people of Alicante. As of March 2021, Spain is limiting travel restrictions to stay within each individual region. For us, this means staying within the Valencian Community. During January and February, unnecessary travel was restricted on the weekends to each individual city, and a 10 p.m. curfew was implemented. However, the metropolitan area of Alicante has many cultural opportunities. My roommate and I have visited the Mercado Central, the Castillo de Santa Barbara, San Juan beach, and have taken many walks around the city to explore. Another difference from a “normal” semester is that, for a majority of our time here, restaurants were only open for take-away. This has altered our experience with trying traditional Spanish cuisine, but with the help of our Alicante CEA director, we’ve done a few cooking workshops via Zoom, including Spanish tortillas and croquettes. Now that restaurants are opening their outdoor seating, we are able to have Spanish-style lunches at local establishments, sitting and relaxing outside, and practicing our Spanish with the locals!
Aside from the cultural aspect of studying abroad, academics are still the priority. We are very lucky that our host university allows us to have in-person classes. The international program, Centro Superior de Idiomas at the University of Alicante, has small class sizes to encourage one-on-one learning with professors, which puts us at an advantage for social distancing within our classrooms. We are required to wear masks at all times, use hand sanitizer, and comply with all safety precautions implemented by UA. On campus during January and February, the university museum stayed open, as well as the three restaurants on campus so that we could still immerse ourselves in the university and make the most of our academic journey abroad.
If you are currently on the fence about whether or not you should go abroad during these times, as long as you follow all of the protocols put in place to keep you safe and healthy, your time abroad is still priceless, and I highly encourage you to take the opportunity if you have it! If you’re looking forward to studying abroad in the coming months, you have nothing to worry about. With the help of CEA onsite staff and advisors, I’ve been able to have a safe and educational study abroad experience so far!
Annie Robey is the Spring 2021 CEA MOJO Blogger in Alicante, Spain, and is currently studying at University of Alabama.