Cultural Experience | Spain

5 Reasons to Study Abroad in a Small Town

Why choosing to study abroad in a small town is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I spent a lot of time researching study abroad destinations, I knew I wanted to study in Spain but that still left a lot of possibilities. While programs in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid looked great, I eventually chose to study in Cádiz, a relatively small town in southern Spain. It’s a place that your average American has never heard of and I’m here to tell you why that’s a good thing.

  1. Small towns are more manageable

Your first time in a foreign country can be overwhelming. Enjoying your experience can be pretty difficult initially when you’re attempting to navigate a completely new environment, speak a foreign language, and calculate exchange rates in your head. If all that freaks you out a little consider a small town. It can make all this a little less stressful just by nature of being smaller.

Additionally, studying in a small town proffers up less distractions and really gives you the opportunity to enjoy the simpler things and focus on your goals. Sit on the beach and watch a sunset or head to a café and practice your language skills with the locals.


  1. You’ll get to know the town really, really well

The peninsula on which Cádiz sits is about six and a half square miles long with the main part of the city occupying about five square miles of that. Nothing is out of the way and everything is very easy to explore. In a small town you’ll have no trouble finding out where the locals hang out and you’ll get to know the town like the back of your hand.

  1. Fewer tourists taking in the popular sites.

Giant crowds, loud voices, and people stopping to take pictures of everything can be a little much on a day-to-day basis. Getting away from the throngs gives you more opportunities to live like a local. Fewer tourists also means fewer people speaking to you in English which can be really frustrating when you’re trying to learn a new language.

Cádiz plaza image

  1. More immersion and more opportunities to get to know locals

If some of your goals for study abroad are learning a new language and immersing yourself in a new culture, there is no better place to go than a small town. Chances are fewer people will speak English giving you more opportunities to speak the language and interact with locals and develop meaningful and lasting connections with them. And you’ll get a better feel for what local culture is really like when it’s not being exaggerated and sold to tourists or hidden behind a Starbucks.

  1. Small towns do not mean small possibilities

While a small town may not have all the allure of a name brand big city, that does not mean there’s nothing to do in a small town. Cádiz for example has beautiful beaches, intriguing market places, quaint shops, restaurants, tapas bars, pubs, a bustling university, festivals, concerts, light displays, and over 3000 years of rich history all within a few square miles. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll never be bored.

Cadiz san antonio image

So why not? Step off the beaten path and see why studying in a small town is so rewarding.

Hannah Polston

University of Denver | 6 stories

Hannah Polston is currently a junior at the University of Denver studying Anthropology, Spanish, and Psychology. She just got back from an incredible experience studying abroad in Cádiz, Spain. When not figuring out how to go abroad again she can be found laying on the beach back home in San Diego, California, knitting (a never ending sweater), eating mac and cheese, and/or exploring the great outdoors.

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