Having been home for a few days now, I have had time to think and reflect about my study abroad experience in Spain. The experiences I have had and the memories I have made have been incredibly developmental to my character and perspective.
Coming back to the US, I hav realized how lucky I have been to engage in this experience early in my college career. I was able to experience a different country, gain internship experience, earn credits, and make many personal and professional relationships that have shaped and will continue to shape me moving forward. Being open to meeting new people and pushing myself outside of my comfort zone most certainly helped me get the most out of my experience, and I feel grateful for the opportunity I had. I now have relationships that may very well take me across the country and beyond in the months and years to come, and thus new opportunities for experiences have sprung from this study abroad experience.
In terms of how I feel I have changed as a person, I would say that I have become more comfortable with myself. Studying abroad can be very challenging and overwhelming at times, but that reality is exactly why the experience can be a reminder of your strengths. As I look at photos from the trip, a sense of accomplishment and wonder comes over me as I recount the sheer variety of cultures, experiences, and personalities to which I was exposed. With these experiences under my belt, I will be even more prepared to take on new opportunities and experiences head-on in the future. Additionally, I feel pride in the fact that I have taken the initiative to do something I have always dreamt about doing: travel and live abroad.
Some advice I would give to future study abroad students would be this: Don’t overthink it. While planning and organization is important when it comes to flights, classes, and other paperwork, I found that oftentimes it was best to not overthink things. From a language barrier to planning flights, buses, trains, and hotels, it would have been overwhelming to try to plan out the entirety of my 6 weeks abroad altogether and trying to do so would have been intimidating. Instead, I recommend jumping in without hesitation. By having the courage to ask a lot of questions to your program managers, friends, and even local people, you will often come to find many solutions to problems that you would not have been able to find online. Just a few examples in which I found this reality play out in my own experience included when I was considering the best ways to travel to cities outside of Barcelona, finding a COVID testing center in Girona, and narrowing down the best things to see during my time in Madrid. Speaking to people helped me save time and gave me better, more personalized solutions than those I would have obtained by using internet searches alone. The people around me were almost always willing to help–I just had to ask.
All in all, I had some of the best times of my life during this summer in Spain, and while I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I dived into my program, I absolutely experienced tremendous personal and professional growth throughout the past couple of months and therefore would urge others to seriously consider a study abroad experience as well.
Thank you very much for reading my blog post, and I hope this information is of help to future study-abroad candidates. I have attached more photos of my time in Barcelona, as well as photos of various beaches along Costa Brava. Thanks again!