By Joshua H, Undergraduate student in Business Management, Ted Rogers School of Management
Last January I embarked on the biggest adventure of my life; studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. Up until then, I had never even left North America, nor was I anything close to fluent in Spanish [. . .], so needless to say I was a little bit nervous before my flight. As one might expect, my flight from Toronto was delayed by an hour and a half, however it so happens that this delay would forever alter my exchange experience. During the delay, I met one of the many lifelong friends I made while in Europe. It turned out that not only were we on the same flight, but we were both going to the same school in Madrid, and would also be living only a 5 minute walk from each other while we were there. This was just the beginning of what I can easily call the best 5 months of my life.
Within days of landing in Madrid, I realized just how easy it was going to be to travel around Europe. A quick search on Sky Scanner (Trust me this will be your new favorite website) showed I could get virtually anywhere in Europe for under $100… seriously, $100, that’s not a typo. So even before school started, I had already visited Portugal, and hung out with some monkeys on a giant rock overlooking Morocco.
Shortly after classes had started, we had assembled a group made up of Canadians, Americans, an Italian, New Zealander, and a couple Brits who all had 1 goal in common; to travel somewhere different every weekend. We soon discovered that Spain was a great country for this as it is a hub for travel which made flights a lot cheaper, and plane rides a lot shorter. Within just a couple of months we had already visited most of Western Europe and even hopped the pond to ride some camels in Africa. I cannot begin to explain the bond that was created between us as we travelled around the world. Not only were we all learning and experiencing the different cultures of the countries we visited, but we would also share knowledge from our respective countries as well, which allowed me to learn something new about a different country virtually everyday.
Ever since I arrived home to Toronto, I’ve been itching to head back to Europe and continue exploring. However, I know nothing will ever compare to the time I had studying abroad with all of the friends I made. Whether it was learning new slang from countries around the world, or finding out that most people didn’t know that Canada had its own dollar, each day spent with my friends abroad was more entertaining than the other.
Without a doubt going on exchange to study in Spain was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. I was able to travel around Europe at an alarmingly low cost, with friends from all over the world, while at the same time I was obtaining 5 credits for school. While my Spanish may not have improved nearly as much as I thought it would, I still could not have possibly imagined my experience abroad being as incredible as it was.