Study Abroad in Spain

My STEP signature project was a study abroad program to Barcelona, Spain. It was a 5 week program, and during those 5 weeks I completed my Spanish minor by taking two classes. I took a Spanish Art and Architecture class as well as a Spanish Cinema class. These classes were two hours each everyday day of the week, and then during the weekends I got the chance to travel to other parts of Spain and Europe. While completing my project, I stayed with a host mom who spoke no English, and both of my classes were completely in Spanish. At first, this was a challenge and I really struggled to make it through the days in class and at dinners with my host mom. After a week of being stuck in this situation, it ended up changing me for the better, opened me up, and taught me about a completely new and amazing culture. Being completely immersed in the Spanish Language and Culture really helped change my views on the world. Seeing this completely different culture opened my eyes to all the diversity in the world. It made me realize that there is more than just the American way of life. I allowed myself to try all the different food and really allowed myself to flow with the Spanish culture. My passion and love for the Spanish language greatly increased. I loved becoming fluent in Spanish and being able to use it in many situations throughout Spain. My parents always made a big point on how important learning a second language is, and this opportunity really made me realize what they meant by that. There is way more than just the English language out there in this big world, and knowing a second language opens so many more opportunities. Being able to speak ¬†Spanish made it easier for me to immerse in the culture quicker, which allowed me to experience the diversity in the world. I really noticed the language barrier in our world when we traveled to other countries like France and Italy. My group and I didn’t know any French or Italian and we didn’t realize how hard it was to try to live a normal life in another country with such a big barrier. These experiences in the other countries made me appreciate my Spanish even more back in Spain. This experience transformed me into a more flexible, open-minded person as I realized how much opportunity and diversity is out there in this huge world. It gave me such a desire to travel the world and see all there is out there. The biggest relationship that helped to create this transformation was the one with my host mom. Eating dinner with her every night as well as living in a typical Spanish apartment had a really big positive impact on my experience. I had to quickly become accustomed to the norms of a Spanish family, like having no air conditioning and not using lights. Eating dinner with her every night improved my Spanish tremendously, but also taught me so much about the Spanish culture. She was so motivated to teach and tell us as much as she could about Spain. I learned so much I had never known before, and it was even more interesting because I got the live through the new culture I was learning more about every day. I appreciated more than anything all the knowledge and time she took with us to make sure we really got the best experience in a new culture from our own. The program I went to also took us on a few excursions during the week in Barcelona that really exemplified Barcelona as well as the Spanish culture. They helped us to stay away from the most touristy areas to really be able to live with and experience the locals way of life. We went to places like the Sagrada Familia, one of Barcelona’s most famous arquitectures, the gothic quarter, an area of Barcelona that really exemplified the Spanish culture, Costa Brava, an Area of Spain that showed us much of the Catalan culture and way of life, and many restaurants that gave us a variety of the different Spanish foods. This helped us to stay away from touristy attractions, and really be able to experience the Spanish culture and way of life. It really allowed us to become immersed. All of this change and transformation that I received from my experience will now play a prominent part in my life and future. It is very important to me to stay bilingual. It made me realize how much more opportunity I will have in my future. My love for the Spanish Language and culture has increased, and I have such a desire to link it with my future career in the medical field. I would love to work with Spanish patients, or even in Spain one day. This experience made me realize early that I want to take my life to travel this world and experience all the diversity there is, and to really take advantage of every opportunity out there to escape my little bubble at home. Each experience I take advantage of will only teach me, and open my eyes to something new. It is so important to realize how big this world is. By me realizing this, many different experiences and relationships will help me grow in so many different areas which in turn will open up so many opportunities for my future.

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