Lesson Plan #1: Preparing to Study Abroad

Subject: Studying Abroad

Topic / Lesson #1: Preparation for Spain

Time Frame: Approx. 3 months

Lesson Taught By: Shaniya Stengl

Hi there! My name is Shaniya and I am currently a junior at UW-Madison striving to be a teacher in Spanish education, which is why I have shaped my blog post in the format of a lesson plan (I’ve got to start practicing sooner or later, right?). Luckily, I have been fortunate enough to study abroad in the upcoming semester in SPAIN, and I cannot wait! However, I still have finals to get through, and a million other things I have to do before I go.

Imagine this, you’re in your second power-lecture of the day, and you think “Ugh, this is so boring. I wish I could be doing something fun,” so you do what every college student does and open up Facebook and Instagram only to see your friend from high school is studying abroad, and you are raging with jealousy. So you get to thinking and realize, “Hmm, I speak another language, and I really want to travel.” What would you do? Where would you go? This was me about 2 months before the application deadline, and I decided that applying to go abroad would be the best experience for me, and especially going to Spain.

I have always loved everything about Spain from their unique foods to their amazing fútbol teams (Real Madrid or FC Barcelona???), and I love the language that I learned over the years. What a perfect opportunity to push myself with my language abilities while being in the center of Spain… Madrid. So I applied and I got accepted, and now I’m preparing to go abroad. Follow along with me in the journey of embracing all that is Madrid, and loving every minute of it.

How can you love Spain without having their flag?
How can you love Spain without having their flag?



Pictures of family, friends, and pets

Flight Itinerary


Student Visa – appointment in Chicago (what a long drive)

New outfits (Need to look super cute when lost in Madrid)

Academic Advising Worksheet

Pick out classes at Universidad de Madrid- Complutense

Luggage Set (Purple, duh)

Information on:



New shoes (at least 2 pairs, one for hiking/traveling, another for strutting around Europe)

Lesson Plans:

  1. Soon after being accepted I began reading all the information I could find about Spain including the handbooks for the program and blog posts from previous study-abroad people, and I paid the acceptance deposit in order to secure my spot.

–           Looking into the information about Spain was super fun, and I learned some interesting things. For example, when you’re in a class in Spain, stretching and yawning is considered offensive, and the professor will call you out for it. EMBARRASSING. Also, ovens aren’t in all apartments there, so I guess that means I won’t be baking my mom’s chocolate chip cookies (major bummer).

  1. I also had an orientation meeting where I met the other students who are studying abroad. We may have a lot of differences, but one thing we have in common is that we are all super excited and a little nervous to go abroad! The leaders of the orientation suggested that we start a Facebook page in order to get to know each other, so as soon as I got home, I found the names for the people in the program and began the page. This orientation was super helpful, and made me even more excited. (But really, how was that possible?)
  1. Our next step in the process is to meet with our academic advisor and use their advice to pick what classes we’ll take while abroad. In addition to the academic meeting, we begin a variety of other more exciting things such as:

–           Looking for flights – which makes this whole experience start to feel real, EEK! Also, flights are definitely not pocket change (over $1,000, thank goodness for my parents’ credit card!)

–           Building friendships with the other students – this includes trying to find some Spanish restaurants in Madison (the Icon on State or Estrellón on Johnson), as well as trying to plan our flight trips together, so we can share our excitement together.

Icon- Tapas

–           Researching about what differences we will encounter while adjusting in Spain – like not having an oven, eating meals way later, or even how they dress!

  1. The best part of going abroad means I need to shop and buy new clothes to make me “blend in” with the Madrileños (the people of Madrid). This also means that I need to get my butt to the gym so I can be in shape, and look extra stylish.

–           In most other cultures, it’s uncommon for students to go to class in sweatpants, comfy clothes, or athletic wear. This is a bad thing for me, because that takes up 90% of my “wardrobe”. I guess that means I just need to buy 100 more outfits… (Sorry Mom!)

–           We can’t forget the shoes of course! After looking online at blogs from people who have studied abroad in Spain in the past and viewing what they recommended people bring, I made my own list of things I want to bring with me, and I realized I need 2 more pairs of shoes (okay, I don’t need them, but I really want more shoes…)

  1. Once the school year ends (finally) it’s pretty much a matter of just killing time until our VISA appointment comes up and we get our e-mails from our coordinator in Madrid (Amy).

–                 The VISA Appointment was not the most fun thing to do, but it is one of the most important. Luckily, the Study Abroad Office gave us links of all the materials we need. Once we have everything we go to our appointment time (plan in advance so it gets back to you in time!) and give them all the paperwork. They keep pretty much everything including my passport (eek) and you sit around waiting for your passport to come back.

–                 On the exciting side, we get an email from Amy in July with some basic information, like the dorm we’ll stay in the first two weeks and how to get from the airport to the dorms, and asking for our flight information. (I know this doesn’t sound too exciting but it feels like everything is coming up fast! (ONLY 46 DAYS LEFT!)

  1. PACKING, PACKING, PACKING. How am I supposed to fit 4 months of clothes into 1-2 suitcases?! (7 DAYS LEFT!)
  1. Throw a going-away party and begin to say goodbyes. (This is where the crying begins… You’re so excited, but your nerves are taking over and the goodbyes make everything real)
My friends and family all came together for one last “festive” goodbye party.
My friends and family all came together for one last “festive” goodbye party.

Difficulties with Lesson Plan #1:

  • Finding time to do all of this before leaving while working and being a new auntie
  • Finding money to buy all of the things I want (again, thank goodness for credit cards)
  • Dealing with the nerves that come along with traveling out of the country for my first time!
  • Beginning to adjust to the types of food I will eat in Spain (seafood is not my favorite, and Spaniards really like seafood)
  • Saying farewell for now.