Anita Barton-Williams is studying French and Spanish at Nottingham Trent university, and is spending her year abroad in Strasbourg, France, and Ávila, Spain. She says, "I want to shed light on the experiences I have had as a young black woman abroad. I want to be able to give advice to other Black people and ethnic minorities on what to expect upon starting their year abroad as I, as well as several of my fellow Black Trent students, have encountered racism on several occasions and feel it is a topic that needs to be brought to attention." Here is her advice.
For those of you who have recently received an acceptance letter to study in Spain, you’re probably already daydreaming about la vida loca that awaits you: a new world where the hardest decision will be which tapas to accompany your glass of sangria, sunbathing on a beach as the sounds of flamenco and salsa music float through the air. For the most part, you won’t be disappointed. However, what the study abroad brochure fails to mention is that your year abroad will be soundtracked by the worst kind of music, that your favourite band would never dream of touring Spain… but also, that the music festivals back at home have been ripping you off for years.
The debate surrounding the Spanish tradition of bullfighting is one that continues to polarise, dividing people between those who see it as an antiquated custom that glorifies the torture of animals, and those who consider it simply as part of the country’s history and culture, with very little grey area in between. As a student on a year abroad in Madrid, a bullfight was high on my to-do list when I moved here. I wasn’t being naïve: I knew what the night would entail, but I thought the only way I could have an opinion on the topic was to experience it first hand, so fuelled by a ‘when in Rome’ mentality, last weekend I attended a bullfight at Madrid’s Plaza de Toros de las Ventas.
Virginia Stuart-Taylor studied Spanish, Italian and Portuguese at the University of Exeter and spent 6 months of her third year abroad studying in Córdoba, in Spain. Having graduated from university, she now writes a blog about travelling and living abroad called The Well-Travelled Postcard, and you can also follow her on Twitter @vstuarttaylor