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Friday, July 8, 2016

Hannah Quinn's "Why Barcelona"

Why Barcelona?
Hannah Quinn

            As soon as I was presented the option to go to Barcelona, I had my heart set. It was an amazing price for an amazing place, but little did I know, I was signing up for so much more than just classes and a warm place. 
            First off, we were so fortunate to be able to stay with someone who was from Barcelona and who loved this place with their whole hearts. They were so excited about our adventures because they wanted us to experience everything this amazing place has to offer. Although there is a communication barrier, there was still a huge amount of love and respect between our hosts and us that you just can’t find in an apartment or a dorm room.  On top of this, the luxury of basically having a Spanish mom is such a huge plus with home cooked food and laundry/cleaning being done for you!
            We got right into exploring and adventures because there are just so many amazing things to do and see once you get to Barcelona. The history, the culture, the art, the people, everything is absolutely amazing and it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love right away. We were able to visit the most iconic places in Barcelona and learn SO much about them. I thoroughly enjoyed having tour guides because they will teach you so much more about the place you are exploring and give you a full dose of the history and love that went in to each structure. I learned so much about Barcelona’s history and it was an amazing experience. Seeing the influence of so many people present throughout the city is incredible and so eye opening. Once you start to learn about their history, you don’t want to stop. You get to see why things are the way they are because there is literally a reason for everything.
            The people in Barcelona are unbeatable. They are so kind and compassionate and so willing to help out the silly American. Each day I had a new (small) issue that I had to take care of that I couldn’t have figured out without the help of the people in Spain. Whether I was lost or just trying to order food, someone was always there to take time out of their day to help. I made many friends on this trip. The ladies from the grocery store down the street, the other students staying at my homestay and the amazing group of Purdue students I was fortunate enough to travel with.
            Our study abroad group created an bubble of love and respect for each other and we grew so close and created friendships that will last a lifetime. I knew zero people coming to Spain and left with 20 new best friends. We got lost together, we discovered amazing areas together, we even hiked up a mountain together and those are just some of the things that helped our friendships grow so strong and so quickly that we just can’t find on Purdue’s campus. Without this study abroad program, I would’ve never met some of my best friends.
            From day 1 to day 30, Barcelona was an incredible journey and it was nearly impossible to say goodbye to my new home away from home. Anyone who is thinking of study abroad in Barcelona, do it. You will not regret it at all and you will learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. 

Not wrong, just different

Before this trip I had little experiences in which I was able to immerse myself completely into a new culture. After being able to do so for the last 30 days, I am now able to sit back and really reflect on the impact this will have on me as a person. I admittedly had some ethnocentrism going on before this trip, I now see why this wasn’t a good thing, and am grateful to have experienced something that forced me to step away from this way of thinking and see things from a different perspective.
When I first arrived in Spain I was surprised to see that they drove on the right side of the rode here, as I thought all of Europe drove on the left side of the road. When I first noticed this I found myself saying “huh they really don’t drive on the wrong side of the road here.” What is funny about this is that I acted as if the right side, driven on in America, was the “correct” way, and driving on the left side would be the “wrong” way. In a sense, it would be the wrong side if you were driving in America, but it is definitely not “wrong” to drive on the opposite side of the road, it is just different, and that’s the key thing here, different. Being in Spain I have come to realize that the things that are common in my culture like driving on the right side of the road, or tipping, are not the only correct way of doing things. When I see things that are unlike things that happen in US, I now realize that these things are just different, not right or wrong. Ultimately this realization has allowed me to come to appreciate the differences in culture, and see things in a new light. This realization has also helped me communicate more successfully with others from different cultures. I now want to learn more about these differences and become intrigued by them, instead of turning my nose away from them, I have found it is more exciting and helpful to be aware or them, and learn more about them.
 I think that this trip will have a huge impact in the ways in which I approach relationships with international students at Purdue or international people in the United States. Before being able to really see how to handle cultural differences and understand different cultural values, I had a hard time relating to international students at Purdue or people from different countries. I had not really stepped out of my bubble of the American way of thinking. Being forced to step out of this bubble and this way of thinking, I have been able to have many great conversations with the students in this program from different cultures than my own. I have found it so fascinating to ask more questions about how they do things, what they believe, or what have you. I have been able to really open my mind and try harder to understand and find ways to relate to these students. I think for me this was one of the best parts of the trip. I have found myself more and more interested in getting to know these differences on a much greater level, and to be more mindful of them. I am excited to go back to Purdue and to be able to feel more comfortable with recognizing these things, and being more accepting and mindful of them.
Finally, this study abroad experience has also helped me to realize the importance of living life to the fullest, and being fully there during each and every moment. In Spain, I have come to realize that this value of just really living life, and enjoying it is really prevalent. You can see this just by their leisurely life style. You walk around restaurants from one to three in the afternoon and there are many people sitting around enjoying their lunch. They are not in a rush to get back to work, or to whatever else they may have to do, but they are enjoying themselves and the company that surrounds them. Being able to see this, I think that this experience will impact the choices I make, in the sense that I will strive to make choices that will lead to me enjoying every moment of my life. I think goals are important and reaching them is important, but I think it is important to live while trying to reach those. I see this importance more so now than I did before spending time in Spain. What I am saying is that I will now strive to make it a point to take advantage of every moment and every opportunity and live it up.
I could not have asked for a better time here in Barcelona. I am grateful for every high and the few lows that I have experienced on this trip. I am thankful for the group that I have been a part of and the amazing people I have met. And most of all, I am grateful for the lessons that this experience and each person I met have taught me.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Who I Have Become

The Boiler Up Barcelona program has been one that I will never forget and better yet be forever grateful for. I went into this program expecting a journey in a culture I ultimately knew nothing about, but it was so much more than just that. To say it was a journey would be an understatement, and when adding the classes that I took into the mix of it all I learned more than I ever thought I would. After four weeks in Barcelona, 16 days of class, and a countless number of adventures along the way, I have come out on the other side as someone better, and I mean that in more ways than one. 

First and foremost, I have come out an adamant promoter of studying abroad in college. This is the time to change your life and no matter how hard it may be to get there, wherever you may want to go, work as hard as you can to make it happen. Being someone who pays for school, including this program, entirely myself, I know it's not easy. But, I also know it's worth it. Studying abroad is an experience I truly believe in and so many students don’t have an understanding of the impact it can make on you. No matter where you go or how long you’re there, every program has something undefinable to offer, and something that you could never learn in a classroom at Purdue. Being able to share my adventures and lessons with others to help show them how life changing this experience has been will be something I will take full advantage of.

How has it changed me though? What will I promote? Well this program has first off, humbled me in such a way that has allowed me to see the world from an entirely different view point. Being a white, American girl from a very nice town who then was blessed to attend a very nice college you could definitely say I was very naïve and sheltered from the world that surrounded me. The second I stepped off the plane in the Barcelona airport, though, this sheltered world of mine was shaken and I have never felt more out of place and unintelligent in my life. At the time it was terrifying and unsettling, don’t get me wrong, but today I am so grateful for every moment that I had no idea what to do. I have been in situations where I felt out of place, but never to this extent, and this completely changed my idea of those who come to America from a different culture and what they’re experiencing. I hate to admit that I would regularly get annoyed at those who didn’t speak perfect English, or act in a way that America considers socially acceptable. I judged those that were going through a challenge that I could never understand until I went on this trip. I am forever grateful to have my delicate little bubble broken and being thrown into a world I didn’t belong in because I now am a better person, a better friend, and a better guide to those who need it. Because of Boiler Up Barcelona I am able to not offer judgment but instead an actual understanding and a desire to help those who were brave enough to break out of their own bubble and immerse themselves in something new, no matter the challenges that come with it.

What I found truly enriching was that once I finally found comfort in being uncomfortable, I also found a desire for more. It took time for me to get past the frustrations of having no idea how do something as simple as order a meal, as well as the utter confusion of the cultural practices that I saw and become immersed in every single day, but eventually that frustration turned into understanding and that confusion turned into curiosity. Being able to engross yourself in even just a small part of a different culture is something so different and something that teaches you so much. Whether you are in a different country or in your American bubble, there are dozens of cultures right at your feet that have so much to offer you and teach you. Barcelona, for example, taught me how to just slow down and enjoy the life around us. While I don’t think I’ll ever be able to walk at the pace they do, I have learned to take the time at a meal to just talk to the people I’m with and enjoy the food in front of me. Not only will I do that, but I will step farther to try new foods that I would have immediately turned away from before hand, and I can assure you I would have never done this before this experience. This is only one example of the affect Barcelona’s culture will have on my life. On top of allowed this culture to affect my life, it also provided me with an understanding that will help me in times where I’m faced with this culture again. This understanding is an asset that could help anyone in things such as business as well as just day to day. And this is where I truly appreciated the classes I was able to take while being immersed in the culture. Being shown how I can apply these new found understandings and experiences to my life and my future will be with me forever.

Dr. Smith told us more times than I could count that, “being in Spain is the class and there is no better way to teach you than this.” This could not be more accurate and brings me full circle. I am a more understanding, less judgmental, curious, enriched, fuller, and better person and I owe it all to going out of my comfort zone and engrossing myself in a culture that I, in no way, understood or belonged. Study abroad, it’s so much more than a simple adventure.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why Study Abroad in Barcelona - EC

Why Study Abroad in Barcelona?
Ellen Kay

I can’t think of any reason to not study abroad. I made the decision to study abroad when I realized I had absolutely nothing to lose from the experience. If anything I have gained so much more than I had ever anticipated. Experiencing a different country has helped me to view other cultures in a way that avoids assumptions and rather has challenged me to understand why and how their culture is different/the same as mine. You get to know new art, food, traditions, history, and experience the culture in a way you will never get in a classroom. (plus there is a beach)

 As a communications major, the benefits of recognizing differences between the cultures will help me to better reach my future audiences and only make me better at what I wish to do with my future. For now and in the future, I feel that studying in Spain has taught me a lot about how things are and more importantly I have been able to understand why they are that way, this is a skill that will follow me and will be put to use in many different ways. There is a lot to be learned and communicating in a different culture and building relationships is a difficult yet rewarding experience. One of the most wonderful parts of the program is that though it is very much an independent experience, you’re not in it alone. You can take the time to get to know the members in your group and while trying to embrace and experience a new culture, there are bound to be events that will speed up the process of establishing a friendship with one another. While studying in Spain, there is so much more to learn than the course materials we studied in class. There is a lot to learn about your self as well. There are stressful situations, communication issues that don’t only include the language barrier, and downright a lot of confusion. There is a certain amount of tolerance and adaptability you either will have or learn. All of these skills are life skills you will need some day and help you in the long run for future successes.  I believe that there is no better time to study abroad than in your college years. If I were any younger, I’m not sure I would have appreciated the experience nearly as much. 

In Spain, there is a sense of relaxation in the culture. Leisure and indulgence are a way of life, this is my favorite part of Barcelona specifically because it has allowed me to grow the most. This way of life is much different from the United States and was quite a shock to get used to. Life seemed to be in so much less of a hurry. In the states, there is constant pressure for creating success in the future. We are so rarely worried about the “now,” we sometimes can get so caught up in worrying about what’s to come instead of enjoying life. This is something that I’ve learned from Spain and will always be able to take away with me. I found this to be a very rewarding mind-set because when in college so much stress and anxiety stems from worrying about our future. Being able to immerse myself in their celebrations like Sant Joan and live in the moment has been so rewarding to me, I can put my phone down, enjoy a conversation, and really embrace the moment. I am very thankful to have had this experience and to have grown so much from it. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Why do you choose to study aboard?
Haonan Yin

At the very beginning, the reason why choose this program is trying to meet my graduation requirement, a 300 level communication course, a major course, don’t mention the leading professor I already familiar with. However, with the time goes by, I founds something else, something that may have more effects to the way that I perceive the world, the way that I interpret myself. The reason why I feel in that is because the program to me is, while you immersed in a new culture feel the culture and value attack your brief and thoughts, learning the knowledge about the culture.

Culture is a fascinating thing thing, it is every where in the place that human existed, but it can not be toughed easily by your fingers. You need to actually immerse into the culture, use empathy to feel what those people feel, think what they think. But the problem about it, you are easily lost in it, begin to lost your position, your identity, your anchor between this world and you spirt world. So, you need someone with knowledge and experience to guide you, give you something to maintain your ration. Thus, that is the reason why this program so good, because you can process both of these things. And that make you wiser and critical in your future life. And that is the most important reason why I believe this program so great.

Also, in this program, you have enormous chance to have the conversation to the local people. Those people have a totally different life with you, hear their story, feel their pain and pleasure. In this trip you could see some glory past and solitude present, some harsh childhood and peace life they have right now, see some hate that could let thousands of people suffer and die, see some sacrifice or compromise that bring the whole continent in peace. You could see it and feel it, those thing are right in your eyes, in every corners of the city, the country. Those things are the witness of the culture, history, the best and the worst of humankind.

And the the most important thing of this trip, you could find something that may actually change your life. The people you talk with, the history you learn, the building you visit, the difficulty that you go through, the happiness you feel, all of them mix together and give you great lesson that will be extremely helpful to your future life, which is the great example that could guild you how to choose in the same situation.

In conclusion, this is a wonderful experience to me. I enjoyed and l leaned a lot through this program. I may not like you, you may not fully understand what I try to explain right now. So, just come and see, explore your own unknown world, embrace you own unexpected journey, reach your own final frontier. And trust me, please, that worth it, you will know, the life is much more complex and simple than you think,