A real-life guide to summer abroad

University of Leeds
4 min readAug 9, 2021


Recent University of Leeds psychology graduate Vivian Ha shares her experiences of attending summer school in Spain.

Ever wanted to study abroad? If you’ve answered no, then you may be persuaded to answer yes after reading this post. In this blog, you will learn all about what I got up to in my summer school abroad experience, what I learned and advice to other students thinking of studying abroad.

A bit about me

I’m originally from Burnley and moved to Leeds in 2017 for university. In July 2021, I graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2:1 in BSc psychology. In my spare time I like to play sport and got involved in various social sport societies such as badminton and netball during my time at university. I also completed an industrial placement at the university as a project assistant intern.

University of Leeds graduate Vivian Ha signed up for a summer in Madrid.

The summer school

I first found out about the opportunity through a university email and jumped at the chance to be able to live and study abroad before I begin my career journey. The summer school took place in Spain over four weeks at the Autonomous University of Madrid and I studied global marketing in classrooms with other international students. We were assessed through class participation, case study reviews, group projects and a one-hour exam. The topics I studied included the decision whether to internationalize, deciding which markets to enter, market entry strategies and designing the global marketing programme. As well as academic activities, the programme costs also covered some social activities such as flamenco classes and the farewell dinner so I really got to know all the other international students there.

The summer school in Madrid gave Vivian the opportunity to try new cultural experiences.

Extra fun!

Outside of my studies, I got to socialise with my classmates at rooftop bars where we were able to see all of Madrid’s skyscraper buildings (highly recommend) and spent lots of time at the campus swimming pool. We also visited many of Madrid’s tourist attractions and history museums. During the evenings, I got to experience Madrid’s nightlife in various bars and clubs. Although, quite a few places were closed because of Covid, I still managed to have a great student life! Additionally, three others and I decided to take a weekend trip to the city of Granada in the second week. I definitely recommend visiting a different city if you were to travel to Spain as each of them are so diverse from the other and have a lot to offer.

“Living abroad gives you the chance to really immense yourself into the culture and its people that you may otherwise get just visiting”.

Summer school isn’t all about studying — there’s plenty of time to explore and have fun too!

What I learned

Having never travelled alone before, I learned that I can be trusted to travel abroad and be independent. Although I spent a lot of time with other students, I also spent some time just walking around the city and enjoying the scenery and with the help of Google maps my fear of being lost in a foreign county was quickly resolved. I also learnt that living abroad gives you the chance to really immerse yourself into the culture and its people that you may otherwise get just visiting.

My advice to other students

By now I hope to have convinced you that completing a summer school abroad through the university is a great idea so I am sure you can do with some useful tips:

• Check if you’re eligible for any funding that can contribute to your trip - the opportunities funding helped me pay for part of my tuition, so it is always worth a check as every little helps

• Try your best to learn any basic words in the language of the country you’re going to - although Madrid is a tourist city, there were still lots of people who only spoke Spanish so knowing how to ask for the bill is always useful!

• Check if you can receive a transport card that could potentially save you a lot of money. Whilst I was abroad, I got a transport card for under 26s and could travel anywhere in Madrid for only 20 Euros a month

• Always bring a portable charger - it is more than likely you might need to use maps or Google translate at one point in the day, so a dead phone is a useless one!