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Vay O’brien’s Life Abroad

Vay in her apartment in Spain. Courtesy of Vay O’Brien

Senior Vay O’brien is spending the first semester of her senior year studying abroad in Spain. She lives in Zaragoza, a city located between Madrid and Barcelona, in a small apartment. The two prior times Vay has traveled to Spain she was still just beginning to learn and understand Spanish.  Since she has been in Spain for school she has gotten more confident in speaking and interpreting Spanish. Vay says that her confidence in speaking Spanish has helped her out a lot with going to her school, The Colegio británico de Aragon, located just south of Zaragoza.

Some of the classes she’s enrolled in are Digital Societies, Algebra, Visual Arts, Anatomy, French, and Literature.  Out of these six classes only two of them are taught in English. One of Vay’s main motives for wanting to live in Spain was to get her familiar with the schooling in Europe since she is planning on pursuing a college education in Wales and eventually wants to live in London or Denmark.

There are a lot of differences Vay has noticed while going to school in Spain; for example, she has noticed more segregation between genders, like boys and girls generally don’t hang out together, and the same applies with different ages and grades. One of Vay’s favorite parts about living in Spain is how easy and cheap it is to travel. A couple weeks ago one of her favorite artists was performing a concert in London so she planned a weekend trip and the plane tickets ended up only costing her $60!

Since Vay is mostly living by herself other than her parents visiting once a month she relies on walking or public transportation to get everywhere due to the driving age being eighteen. Some mornings before school she gets up before eight to get a taxi on days she isn’t able to ride the bus she usually takes to school.

Vay worked three different jobs over the summer to save up to live in Spain. Though she pays for the majority of her groceries and helped pay for the apartment deposit, her parents are helping her pay her monthly rent, for which she says she plans to reimburse them. Another difference about life in Spain is the working age, which is legally 16, but until you turn 18 you need parents’ consent to work. Vay has held back on getting a job due to her technically being an immigrant.  She would need to go through the process of getting a Visa in order to work. She also described how unusual it is to see people under 18 working. Though there are a lot of things Vay misses about living in the US, she is enjoying her experience in Spain and will be back in the states December 30.

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Fiona Alverson
Senior of the class 2024

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