This past July I spent 4 weeks studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain through ISA. I attended the Universidad Internacional de Menédez Pelayo where I took two classes which allowed me to complete all of my credits for my minor in Spanish: Spanish Cinema and Spanish Art and Architecture.
Traveling and studying abroad has opened my eyes to the difference in culture and gave me many new experiences. Before traveling to Europe, I was a little nervous and did not know what to expect, especially considering this was my first time being in Spain alone for such a long period of time. I had the opportunity to travel to Spain in 2015 with my high school, so I was slightly familiar with Barcelona saw many of the same landmarks I saw during my first trip. Thankfully, I knew a few people that were doing the same program as me and quickly made more friends once I got there which made the transition easier. I have always considered myself as an independent person, so going on this trip really allowed me to find myself and take a break from a lot of the technology we surround ourselves with in America.
Staying with a host mother during my stay was the most influential aspect of my time in Barcelona. I had the opportunity to stay with a woman named Eva who lived in an apartment in the Eixample District. She did not speak English which forced me to use and practice my Spanish skills on a daily basis. This helped my confidence while speaking immensely and I even learned some new words thanks to her. Eva was originally from Barcelona and while we traveled on the weekends, she traveled to see her daughter and grandchildren. For dinner, we always had salads that Eva had made us followed by traditional Spanish fruits. Choosing the homestay option enhanced my time in Barcelona and I feel as though I would not have had the same experience if I had lived on my own mostly because I was forced to use and practice my Spanish every day.
Every weekend during our program, we had the option to travel. We had planned excursions to go on most weekends but had the option to skip them and plan our own trip. A group of my friends and I chose to go to Rome for our last weekend and it was the best trip of our lives. It taught us how to get around unfamiliar areas and while we experienced a few bumps in the road along the way, we were able to see all the major landmarks and eat amazing food. I met so many wonderful people during my travels that have made an impact on my life. I also feel as if I became more mature while I was abroad. On most of my other trips I have gone on in the past, they were usually with family, but being able to travel to other countries with just a small group of friends was a totally different experience.
Overall, studying abroad in Barcelona allowed me to become more confident with my Spanish speaking skills along with becoming even more independent. It also showed me that I want to continue to travel and experience other cultures as well. I have also begun to consider the possibility of moving out of the country for my future career. This was the experience of a lifetime and I strongly urge that others study abroad to experience learning in a different culture.