Global News Blog: SMU Students in Spain

November 30, 2010  

Posted by Elizabeth Langdon

SMU is one of many universities that offer study abroad programs around the world. One of the most popular here on campus is the SMU-in-Spain program.

A requirement for the semester in Spain includes a series of orientation sessions prior to traveling to Spain in order to prepare the students for a new culture. Senior Gretchen Beckert, a SMU-in-Spain student in the spring of 2010, found the orientation sessions extremely useful, but quickly realized that nothing can prepare you for the real thing.

“When I first got to Spain, I was blown away by how different everything was. It’s a complete culture shock from everything down to meal times,” Beckert said. “They don’t eat dinner there until about 10 p.m., and that’s almost early.”

When traveling abroad, it’s extremely important to research as much information as possible about your destination.

“I didn’t realize that during siesta time, everything shuts down, especially in small towns,” Beckert said. “I was stuck trying to buy food at 3 p.m., right in the middle of siesta. It was impossible; I had to wait until 4:30 to find a grocery store that was open.”

Some pointers to remember about traveling in Spain:
- A typical greeting is a kiss on each cheek, one kiss is considered romantic
- Spain uses the Euro, current exchange rate is $1 = .76€
- Siesta is from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and most businesses will not be open
- The majority of the population uses public transportation, personal vehicles are not common

For more information on SMU-in-Spain, please visit:

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