Spain: Sophomore Didac Vega


Adjusting to earlier dinner times was only a fraction of sophomore Didac Vega’s international exchange experience. While attending Gunn for the past year, Vega adjusted to a different lifestyle than the one he had in Spain as well as enriched his knowledge of American culture.

Vega has enjoyed Gunn’s highly involved student life. “During Homecoming Week, everyone was super invested in (showing) school spirit, which is not something we have in Spain,” he said.

Vega was also surprised by the amount of time students dedicate to school sports in the U.S.—back home, sports are more like a hobby. Vega, who plays tennis, appreciates the consistency. “I like that we have practice every day,” he said. “In Spain we have practice two days a week, but here people are very serious about their sports.”

At the same time, Vega didn’t expect the academic environment to be as competitive as it is, due to his more laid-back high school experience in Spain. “Gunn is very competitive compared to (high schools in) Spain,” he said. “Everyone takes everything so seriously here, but in Spain it’s more about having fun. People are way too stressed.”

While most of his expectations were met, he was still surprised by the academic rigor Gunn offered. “I thought school was going to be super easy,” he said.

Prior to attending Gunn, Vega saw videos online poking fun at American students’ lack of basic knowledge on certain subjects like geography. “I was expecting that,” he said. “It was shocking when kids here weren’t like that.”

However, Vega found Gunn’s social life very similar to his high school experience in Spain, and didn’t find it hard to adjust. “Getting used to the schedules was very easy for me,” he said. “It was very similar to Spain, but it was exciting to see a lot more diversity than I expected. There are more nerdy people than I thought, though.”

Yet, Vega also experienced hardships during his time studying abroad. “Being without my family and living by myself was difficult,” he said. “I had to learn to be more mature. Since I lived with a host family, I had to balance being a part of the family (while) not being too dependent on them.”

Overall, the experience of adjusting to Gunn has been positive for Vega. “Being an exchange student didn’t make the adjustment hard,” he said. “I think it was mainly because I’m a new student. It was a cool experience, and I definitely recommend it to other students.”