Welcome to a synopsis of what has been the craziest month of my life. My name is Zach, and I am spending this Spring in Barcelona, Spain. What was originally a nerve-racking concept is now a reality; as I now wake up everyday in a totally foreign country. I walk new streets, learn in a new school, eat at new places, and even speak a new language (to the best of my ability). I am fortunate to have a fantastic support group, both on-site and back home; but to be honest, the change has not been too difficult.

This is my group of peers in the CIS study abroad program (along with our program coordinator). Being thrown into this together has been much easier than it would have been alone. We have all quickly adapted to our new surroundings and the challenges they bring. So far, the greatest difference I have noticed has been our growing communication skills, as we learn the Spanish language. Most of us were struggling to hold conversations with locals at the beginning of this semester, but now we are more than comfortable in all of the social situations that are necessary for daily life in Spain.

One of the benefits of being in Barcelona is its location. On the northeast coast of Spain, Barcelona provides easy travel to many places. Flights to many popular travel destinations (including Paris, Rome, Lisbon, and London) are only a couple of hours long. This weekend, I made my first trip out of the city: a weekend trip to Spain’s capital, Madrid. This was such an insightful experience because it allowed me to truly realize my Spanish speaking skills. In Barcelona, the locals speak Spanish, but they use a dialect called Catalan, which, while similar to Spanish, does not translate well to a new learner. Meanwhile, citizens of Madrid stick to Spanish. So, life is pretty easy here in Barcelona, but I really felt in my element talking to the people of Madrid.

Now though, it’s back to class until my next excursion. Hasta Pronto!