Ana Livia stands at El Greco’s museum looking at the Tajo river in Toledo. Toledo is a small city located on a mountain top on the outskirts of Madrid.
Overseas Study Program
Ana Livia Coelho
Ana Livia’s majors: Journalism and Spanish
Year abroad: Academic Year 2007–2008
Reason you chose this program: I chose the program because I’m a Spanish major and my grandfather is from southern Spain.
Favorite classes: Art in the Prado Museum. We would spend two hours with a tutor looking at paintings in the museum and discussing them.
Housing situation: I lived in an apartment with another WIP Madrid student and a German guy. I recommend living with Spaniards to get a better cultural experience.
Best memory: The best memory I have was when I first arrived at night and walked into Madrid for the first time. It was like, “Wow, this is my whole year now.” It was a big moment to take in. The other is a Christmas party we had with the Wippers (on the WIP Madrid Program). It was really nice because it was a feeling of family and bonding. Some of the best friends I have today are those I met in the program.
Greatest challenge: Learning how to communicate effectively with a different culture. It’s one thing trying to get around using the language, but another having to speak with people.
What I wish I knew before I left: I wish I had known I’d never need to wear high heels in Madrid!
Culture shock vs. reverse culture shock: It was hard for me having to deal with how blunt people are and how inconvenient things were in Spain. Shops would close at 2 p.m. and open at 4 p.m. Everything is very slow, and laid-back. People procrastinate on everything.
What I know now that I didn’t know before: I realized that we’re all people. There is no such thing as a “right” culture or a “right” way to speak. We all express ourselves differently. We're too used to our own ways. But really we’re all people of different backgrounds and cultures and that’s the beauty of it all.
Fact about Spain that you think people would be surprised to learn: People are really open to talk and give opinions. It’s really important to have an opinion when speaking with Spaniards about politics and things going on in the United States and the world.