So I have been looking into studying abroad for my entire life and now that I am in college I finally have the opportunity. However, I am now vegan and that changes my opinions recently. The dilemma is that I have to choose within the next week if I want to go or not because I have to apply for next semester...
I would be going to Seville, Spain and be staying with a host family for about 4 months. Im from the United States so the program I will be working with is going to teach all of the classes in english. However outside of class, I will have to speak completely spanish, which I have no background with. I have never traveled alone or outside of the country before. The thing I am most afraid of though is eating as a vegan. I know the spanish culture surrounds themselves with meat and eggs, so I'm not sure if they will understand my beliefs or if I will be offending them. My school advisor also told me she might be able to find me a vegetarian family but probably not a vegan one.
I know it would be a leap to go but I REALLY want to study abroad and may never get the opportunity to go again.
IF ANYONE HAS ANY OPINIONS PLEASE HELP!
Posted by evgkor at 03/21/15 19:28:32Hey!
Have no doubts. Just do it. I am currently doing my year abroad in Austria and I would say it is a very meat-oriented country with their famous schnitzel and wurst. I am a vegetarian so I don't go through much trouble finding food that suits my diet. From what I've noticed you can always find exclusively vegan or vegetarian restaurant but also a few that have vegan/vegetarian dishes on their menu. If you don't have much to choose from in the local supermarket I've seen a few vegan stores offering a variety of products. My flatmates have been vegan for more than 10 years. So what I am trying to say is that you will find people that have similar beliefs and people that will disagree with you but I think in no way your diet will be offensive to them. And also I know I am talking about a different country but I think it is the same everywhere more or less. At least in Europe :)
Just go for it. Doing a year abroad is the best experience you will ever have!
Posted by craigmc at 03/29/15 14:27:30I have been to Seville and its not that vegan friendly as such, but you won't starve. Especially over the summer you will find plenty of salad, bread, veg antipasto options.
i have to say spain and portugal are two place where the concept of non meat seems difficult for people locally to understand. with my poor grasp of local languages, i do always get by, i have constantly had issue with getting food with meat on it, and they just take it off when you complain. I still wouldn't eat this and confusion often takes over.
As i said earlier, you won't die, but it will be difficult. Hanging meat is common if it really bothers you. Seville and the surrounding area is totally awesome though, and you should go. (really hot in the summer, i mean really hot)
Posted by J and J at 12/02/15 15:48:45Yes! Definitely study abroad! I know this is really late, but I hope you did! :) I lived with an Italian host mother, and she was just fine with my being vegan. I've also lived with host in Ireland, France, Germany, and in the UK and they were always fine with my being vegan. If you can write a letter to your host family ahead of time, explaining what you do and do not eat, and offering to help - something like this:
"Hi! I am so excited that I will soon be coming to Spain! Thank you so much for welcoming me into your home. My name is ___. Some hobbies I really enjoy are ____. I am so exited to do ____ and ____ in Spain! What I really love about Spanish is ____. These are some of my past experiences that inspired me to study abroad ____. I am so happy that I was able to be placed in a host family, it means so much to me to be able to experience real Spanish culture. I do have some dietary concerns, but I don't want to make any extra work for you. I am a vegan, that means I do not eat any animal products - meat, fish, dairy, eggs, butter, etc. - but I do love learning about new cuisines. I do not want to ask anything extra of you. I am happy to eat potatoes, rice, vegetables, fruits, bread... And I would really love to cook with you sometimes, and I know a lot of creative ways to substitute ingredients to make any kind of meal vegan. Please don't feel that you have to do any extra work. I am happy to prepare lunches for myself, have simple dinners and breakfasts - I love bread and jam! Especially local Spanish bread! It's one of the special things of being in Europe as an American - the homemade bread. I really look forward to meeting you and learning about your home in _____. I am so fortunate to get to experience Spanish culture with a real family. Thank you again for opening your home to me, and I look forward to meeting you soon!"
I have found in traveling, that although all of my hosts were not even vegetarian, all of them - every single one of them - regularly made vegan meals on their own and knew a lot more about vegetarian and vegan cuisine than most Americans. A big part of European culture is eating seasonally and locally. Fruits and vegetables in season are celebrated. People also do not gorge on meat and cheese like they do in the US. My Italian hosts regularly made cheese-less pizzas for themselves, and you can find them in any Italian pizzeria - and it's not for vegans! Even my sausage-loving German hosts had all kinds of vegan meals they normally made - rice and vegetables, types of salads, breads with jam, roasted vegetables, soups, beans, squash...
I find that if I am clear up front about being vegan, express that I am not expecting them to make any special food for me, that I am fine with very simple things they already have - (example, nearly every German table has bread and jam at breakfast. True they also have cheese, meats, and butter... but I just don't eat those items: bring on the bread and jam!), and also that I am interested in cooking together and creatively coming up with vegan ways to make some of the national dishes. People have always been really receptive to this. I've never had a bad response. So, even though it's scary, please do study abroad, go abroad, live abroad --- anyone who is thinking of it! It is always worth it!