In the midst of final projects, papers and exams, I was assigned to write a reflection paper on my experience here in Barcelona. This made me really sit down and think about all of the amazing things I gained and things I’ve done since being abroad. I didn’t believe all of the rumors about how “abroad will change your life”, but it definitely has. Since I go away to school, I haven’t lived at home since freshmen year. I thought that moving to Spain would be similar, just in another country. But I got so much out of this one semester in Europe than I have my entire time in college.
I have definitely gained a lot of memories and some friends that I know will always be in my life, but more importantly I gained a lot as a person. I have matured and developed some qualities that I can’t say I had before doing this experience. Here are some of the most important qualities and characteristics that you will gain if you study abroad.
Independence: Although I go away to school and I consider myself independent, I still am dependent on my parents to help me out with a lot. A couple of times I needed to call my mom and ask her a quick question but I couldn’t because of the time difference. I learned that going to a café and eating alone is okay. You need some alone time when you are abroad otherwise it can get overwhelming. I had made a separate group of friends apart from my roommates and because I became more independent I would take the metro to go and hangout with them. I normally would have felt bad, but I know I needed to make the most of my experiences and out of the bonds I was making. I also learned how to be independent by booking trips. I had to plan my own flights, hotels and activities, when normally I’m used to my mom doing it for me when we go away on family vacations. I became a pro at using Skyscanner.com and hostelworld.com. On my way here I was petrified to fly alone and on my flight home I know I’ll be perfectly fine and okay.
Time Management: Girls in my sorority have a joke that my roommates and I never make it to the “pregame” because we are ALWAYS late. Although I don’t always like being late, I usually am. Being abroad has helped me manage my time a lot better. I have learned to figure out how much time I need to leave myself to get from home to class on the metro, to how many hours is enough hours to wait for a flight at the airport and how to finish all of my homework WHILE traveling. It took some trial and era but I think we finally figured it out.
You don’t need WiFi to survive: Maybe I have a biased opinion on this because I got my phone stolen, then got it back, and then brought it in a pool. So I basically haven’t had a phone for a while. BUTTTT even when I did have a phone it was useless most of the time. I always find it so awkward and embarrassing when I’m out to eat with a group of people and the first question they ask when the waitress or waiter comes is “WHAT’S THE WIFI?????”. Not having wifi makes the communication with the people that you’re with so much more special and personal. I have gone on trips where I haven’t had wifi for the entire weekend. It always feels so cool when I would finally get internet in Barcelona and I would have all of these messages and emails…makes me feel like the president, just kidding.
Ultimate Gratitude: Living in another country and not being able to have a job to help support myself has really made me more appreciative of my crappy little restaurant job. I always felt so terrible when I had to ask my mom to put more money in my bank account because its usually something I can do on my own in America. I am so thankful that I have the best family that is paying all of this money for me to have an experience of a lifetime. When my mom came to visit she really put my experience abroad into a great perspective. She said that I’ve seen and done more in a semester than anyone in my entire family has ever done. This made me realize how lucky I am that I can say I’ve been to 6 countries in 4 months. What I got to do has really opened my eyes and made me realize how incredible this was and how so many people will never get to 6 countries in their entire lives. Don’t forget to say THANK YOU to your families!!!!
That I can do anything!!!!!!! Come on! I moved away from home to a foreign country, not knowing my roommates or any Spanish, with maybe one friend from home. I think that that is an accomplishment in itself. I literally learned how to ski in the Swiss Alps, gotten my phone stolen and then given back, rode a camel in the middle of Morocco, drank Guinness with some leprechauns, learned how to surf in Portugal. I am so proud of myself and I can honestly say that I never once felt the upmost desire to get on a plane and come back to America. Since I conquered Spain and some parts of Europe, where will my next adventure lead me too??…
I am going to miss a lot about Barcelona, but I know the experiences and the things I have gained from this will be so unforgettable. I am happy to go home to hug my family and see my friends, but I am definitely leaving a piece of my heart behind in this amazing city.