You know how much we here at The Abroad Guide love a good student blog (we even have a post about how to create your own) so we’re starting a new series that features our favorites and the supercool students behind them.
We found Melanie’s blog through Twitter and have been just a little obsessed ever since we did. Mel not only describes all of the cool things she’s been doing since arriving abroad (with a bit of humor added in) but there’s also plenty of pretty pictures that make you want to go everywhere she’s been. Read on to hear more about Mel and her blog getat_Mel.
Ok Melanie, first things first– where are you from and what school do you go to back at home?
I’m originally from Georgetown, Massachusetts and I am currently a junior (ahhh!) at Syracuse University.
What made you choose Madrid as your study abroad location?
At first, I was between Florence and Madrid, but I had taken Spanish in high school and really wanted to pick up the language again. My Spanish teacher had studied in Granada and would tell us these awesome stories in class, so I’ve always been intrigued by Spain. It worked out that Syracuse has a program in Madrid, so here I am!
I started off with an 11-day traveling seminar (through the Syracuse program), which took us all over Spain and Portugal before settling in Madrid. So far I’ve been to:
And I just got back from Amsterdam this weekend!
What’s the coolest thing that you’ve done or experienced so far ?
Hah! The answer to this question changes daily. Today I would say one of the coolest things I did abroad was take a trip to Amsterdam. It was never really on my radar of places to go, but last weekend I arrived a few hours before my friends and just walked around exploring the city, which is beautiful and so different from Spain. Also La Alhambra in Granada, olive oil tasting in Seville, cliff jumping in Lagos, and staying out all night at Kapital in Madrid definitely top the list.
Your blog is awesome. What made you start it?
Thank you! I’m a public relations and marketing major at ‘Cuse, and for one of my PR classes last spring we each had to start a blog to discuss different topics for the class. Then I started blogging for the Public Relations Student Society of America at Newhouse and really liked it! Since then I’ve made my own blog a little more personal and unique. I enjoy writing and it’s a great way to share my adventures abroad and have a way to relive it when it’s all over and I’m depressed…
Do you have any advice for students who want to start a blog while they’re abroad?
Include pictures! It’s great to read about things you do but your readers will want to see them too (just try to keep it appropriate). Also, don’t worry about including every single detail of every single day. I try to write as if I’m writing an email to my best friend, giving the highlights and showing some of my personality. Add hyperlinks so other travelers can find the places you’re talking about and you can remember where you went!
Side note – we loved one of Mel’s photos so much that we used it for our new stickers! You can see a photo of them on our Instagram.
QUICK– name one thing that study abroad-ers MUST do when in Madrid!
Just one?! If I HAD to choose, I’d say walk from Puerta del Sol to Plaza Mayor and the surrounding area. There’s a great mix of historic buildings and modern shopping with tons of places to eat and drink (check out the Mercado de San Miguel for tapas!). It’s sort of like the Times Square of Spain and the people watching is on another level.
Got any advice for students who will be studying abroad soon?
“Be brave, be smart, and be happy.” My mom wrote that in a hidden note in my luggage and it just sticks with me.
Do some research before you leave home to get an idea of what’s out there and the things YOU definitely want to see. Ask your friends and family who have been to where you’re going to suggest some places for you. I did that for Madrid, and whenever I have some downtime I consult the list(s). I’m already making one of my own to pass along to whoever is interested.
Also, don’t be embarrassed to take pictures (with you in them!). You’ll want to remember what you looked like in the places you travel, even if it never makes it to Facebook.
Want your study abroad blog to be featured? Tweet us a link to your blog and use #theabroadguide and we’ll check it out!