Get to know me! My name is Amanda Catalano and I am a junior at Alabama. I am studying Psychology and Spanish, and I am from Wisconsin. I am studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain through an affiliate program called CEA.

I chose to study abroad because I love to travel, and because my mom studied abroad. I grew up hearing her amazing stories and experiences, and I wanted to create my own! Why Barcelona? I am studying Spanish as my minor, so that made me think about choosing a Spanish speaking country. When choosing between south America and Europe, I had to think about where I wanted to travel. Most of my top bucket list places were in Europe, so that lead me to Spain! When choosing a city that I wanted to study in, I had to really think about what I wanted in a city. I wanted culture, but I didn’t want to lose the metropolitan and modern feel of a city. For these reasons, Barcelona was perfect. It is the perfect traveling hub because of its location, the weather is amazing, the beach is beautiful, and there is so much culture.

I have never been the best at packing efficiently. I am the definition of an over-packer, and when you are going to spend 4 months in one place, you can imagine how hard it was for me to pack. It is advised to bring three pairs of shoes, and I brought 8. I wanted to be prepared for any and every situation, and I could not realistically see myself only wearing three different shoes for 4 months. I brought lots of clothes for every type of weather, and I stocked up on back up items like makeup and travel sized toothpastes. I had three full sized suitcases that were all around 52 pounds, and then a carryon and a purse. Thank goodness the baggage clerk was in a good mood!

Here is my Mom, right before we said goodbye. She was emotional, but I was mainly excited because 8 hours later, I would land in Barcelona!

When it comes to my thoughts and feelings about being away for 4 months, I was mostly excited. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of nerves, but that was mostly for meeting new people. I get very anxious when I meet new people, especially with the added pressure of needing to make friends quickly. I had this huge fear that I was not going to meet anyone, and then I was going to be alone for the whole 4 months. I have always been very independent when it comes to family, so saying goodbye to my family was not very hard. It was the same feeling as when I hug my family goodbye to do a normal semester at Alabama. I also have problems with FOMO, so I was a little nervous about leaving my friends for a whole semester. I didn’t want to miss out on the fun they were having back in Alabama, and it made me sad that I wouldn’t be there to experience it with them. To help me cope with these feelings, I made it a point that I would stay in contact with all of my friends. Another thing that helped me with this fear, is that I was going to be in Europe! If anything, my friends that are stuck at school in Alabama are jealous of what I was experiencing in Europe.

I hoped to gain understanding of different cultures, and a new appreciation for how people live all over the world. My main hopes for studying abroad were to travel as much as possible. Even if it is only for three days on the weekends, I was so excited to see as many cities as I can. I love traveling, and Barcelona seemed like the perfect place to fly to and from.