why study abroad?

It was sometime in high school when I knew for sure I wanted to study abroad in college. I didn't know when or where, but I knew it was something I had to do. For as long as I can remember, I have had a huge fascination with languages and cultures different than my own. I can remember being in elementary school and constantly befriending the students from other countries who had just moved here, eagerly asking them to teach me words in their native languages. Surprisingly, it wasn't until high school that I actually started studying Spanish. (I always wish I started earlier!!) I can thank my sophomore year Spanish II teacher for encouraging me to continue studying in college. Thankfully, I followed her advice. Today, I am just a couple days away from packing my bags and heading to Spain to study Spanish at la Universidad de Extremadura for three months. I can definitely say I am feeling a wide range of emotions, but overall I am feeling excited and ready to take on this new adventure.


Most people have no idea what I am talking about when I say where I am studying abroad. Honestly, I had never heard of it myself until I started researching the different destinations on the Iowa State Study Abroad Center website. Located in Western Spain's Extremadura region, Cáceres is the halfway point between Madrid and Lisbon. It is a charming little city with cobblestone streets and buildings dating back to the medieval and renaissance periods, naming it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

La plaza mayor de Cáceres

While many may be attracted to the big city life in Barcelona and Madrid, I was drawn to Cáceres for a few reasons. The biggest being that I really wanted to go somewhere where I wouldn't feel like just another tourist. Cáceres is kind of a hidden gem in the sense that it isn't considered a huge "touristy" destination. And with the lack of tourists means more Spanish speaking! Since I'm going there to study Spanish with an overarching goal to improve my Spanish speaking skills, I wanted as little temptation to speak English as possible.

study Abroad Center Social Media Intern

I am fortunate to have been chosen as one of the Iowa State Study Abroad Center Social Media Interns. With that comes a weekly blog post during my time here in Spain. I've never blogged before, but I figured what better time to give it a shot?? Writing down my experiences and travels will not only allow for my family and friends to follow along on my journey, but also give me a chance to sit back and reflect on all that I am doing. If I learned anything after my first little trip to Europe this past summer, it's that it's super easy to forget everything that you have done, and often times it's the little details that you truly want to remember.

Also, if you know me, you know I'm super passionate about photography. One of the things that excites me the most about studying abroad is thinking of all of the amazing views I am going to see and have the opportunity to capture. This blog will allow for yet another platform for me to share all my photos with you all. Because, we already know that I'm gonna be taking more than I'll ever know what to do with.

Speaking of that, here's a few pics I never got around to posting from my trip to the U.K. over the summer.

Photography is easy when you have views like these. I can't wait for more in Spain. Here's to the next three months!!

follow along!

© 2020 by Maddie Leopardo