Summing up an entire year’s worth of experience on one handprint isn’t exactly easy so I decided not to try and fit in individual experiences or places but rather give a general gist of my experiences abroad.
Languages – the whole reason I went abroad this year was to improve on my French and Spanish skills. Not only have I done this (at least I hope I have) but I have also been able to make some incredible friends from all over the world; Croatia through to Venezuela, each with their own cultures, dialects and languages. During my last month in Valencia, my best friend (Croatian) had us learning how to say cheers in the languages of whoever we were drinking with.
Travel – With so much free time on Erasmus it would have been foolish to not make the most of it and explore some of the most beautiful cities in France and Spain. I got to experience the culture and dialects of different regions and see some world renowned architecture.
The Food – One of my lasting memories of my year abroad will be the food. It was so delicious and varied that the prospect of a 4th year diet of beans on toast and jacket potatoes seems even less bearable than the workload. Pretty much all social events with my friends abroad involved food to the point where I even associate certain dishes with particular friends.
Rivers – An unusual choice I’ll admit but it wasn’t until I started making this map that I realised how much rivers feature in my memories of last year. In Tours most summer evenings were spent socialising by the river, many days paddling in it and too many hours studying in the university on its banks. In Salamanca it was pretty much the hub of all daytime socialising and in Valencia it was where we’d sit and eat or read when the journey to the beach seemed too strenuous.
Boats – Not exactly a central feature of my life abroad but one that has clearly made its mark. Two of my favourite memories from my year abroad took place in boats. The first being the day my friends and I canoed along a river in the Loire region of France and went right under Le chateau de Chenonceau. The second being the day I forgot to steer our rowing boat away from the fountain in Retiro Park, Madrid and got the boat so full of water we thought we might sink.
Lucy. Tours, Salamanca & Valencia.