LOUISE (2nd year)
“Before starting my first semester of International Studies, I decided to take a gap year from January 2020 until August. After going to Taiwan for 2 months to teach English, I was planning to move to Spain to become an au pair. When I was an exchange student in the Netherlands at 16, I had Spanish classes which I really enjoyed. I was determined to keep working on my Spanish which is why I really wanted to move to Spain in my gap year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I could no longer go. But, when I learned that all university classes were going to be online, I realized that I did not necessarily have to be in the Netherlands. So, I saw this as an opportunity to still move to Spain. I contacted the Spanish family that I would be staying with and asked them if they were still open to me being an au pair for them. Fortunately, they said yes and so, I moved to Valencia.
I stayed with that family for two months but, unfortunately, it was not a good fit at that moment. Soon after, I found a place in the city center and tried focusing on getting used to living in this new country as well as focusing on my studies. When it comes to online classes, it was difficult at times, though I did enjoy the tutorials where I could meet my fellow students. Sometimes, I would meet up with some of them online to study together which was nice. Perhaps, if I would have moved to the Netherlands in my first year, I could have made more friends in the Netherlands. However, I would not have made my Spanish friends, who I met through trips, hostels and Facebook groups. In addition, I was able to experience the culture, not as a tourist, but in a deeper way whilst continuing to improve my Spanish. Covid-19 may not have let me go to university in person, but it did open the door for me to move to Spain. I took the opportunity and it was definitely worth it. No regrets.” (Louise, 2nd year, Australia)