Before going on this study abroad trip to Spain, the last time I had studied Spanish was my junior year in high school. I pretty much only remembered basic vocabulary, like “where is the bathroom,” “my favorite animal is the cat,” and “I like to eat bread.” I told myself a month before we left that I would use Duolingo to learn more Spanish so I could communicate with my host family and the locals around me, but then that month turned into a week, then that week turned into a day, and then I realized I was face-to-face with my host mom and I could not communicate with her. She knew about as much English as I knew Spanish, so my entire stay in her house consisted of google translate conversations and complicated games of charades. My advice to any students studying abroad is to learn the language of the country you’re visiting. You definitely don’t have to be an expert but know enough so you can effectively communicate with your host family and anybody involved in the program that speaks that language. In the end, it wasn’t a total disaster that I didn’t know Spanish, we were able to communicate enough and before I left I wrote her a letter explaining how much I appreciated how much she had done for us and apologized for not knowing Spanish in Spain. So even though it is not completely necessary to learn the language of the country you’re visiting, it will definitely help and allow you to fully immerse yourself in the experience abroad.