I think the biggest challenge for me while studying abroad was the language barrier. I love meeting new people. I love talking to people, building relationships with people, learning their stories, and just making new connections. I grew very frustrated with being able to communicate with other people to a very minimal extent. As time went on it got a bit easier, but I always felt like an inconvenience to the conversation having to speak slowly or having things repeated. Moving forward, I have now learned how to deal with a language barrier and how to accept it in a way that still allows you to communicate with others in a new culture. It is very important to know how to thrive in an uncomfortable and new situation in which you may be the minority. It is also important to note how much I have loved building relationships with the people in our program as well. As our instructor described it, we've created a "bubble" in which we all have been in for the past 4 weeks. This bubble created strong relationships, built on new experiences and hardships. It was really cool to see the way everyone got along, or didn't get along, and how people reacted to the new environment. Everyone responds in their own way to change, and it was very interesting to note the different ways people experienced living in a new culture for a month, especially myself. This also showed me that even within one culture, just how different people can act and think. Some students struggled more than others to adjust to the new environment. Traveling is an adjustment in itself, but it is also something I believe gets better with practice, just like a sport. The more you know about a culture, or how to submerge yourself in one, the better you are at it. This allows you to appreciate that culture more.
Study abroad has also influenced my future by forcing me to continue to travel! I have very much enjoyed my time here. The city of Barcelona is amazing, but the experience of exploring a new city in a new country in itself becomes a huge part of a person's life. I learned a lot about myself. For instance, I value personal space. In America, the "personal bubble" is a given, in Spain, not so much. I learned that I love meeting people who are different from me, and learning something from them. I learned that I thrive on adventure, even when it's to somewhere new and uncomfortable, it is always worth it. I learned there is a lot of value in getting lost. Sometimes getting lost can lead to a hidden, but beautiful place that you never could have found on purpose. I like learning things about myself. I sometimes surprise myself, and other times am comfortable predictable. It is helpful to be familiar with these things about myself. They don't only apply to traveling, but every day situations.
I learned a lot about discipline throughout this summer. Balancing school and social life at home is one thing, doing that in another country that has so much to be explored in so little time is another. I have become a pretty decent planner since becoming a college student, but being abroad and trying to get A's became a challenge all on it's own. I believe this level of discipline will greatly benefit me in the future. Students who study abroad see a whole new side of studying. We may have been more lucky than others, because we got to practice the skills we were learning in class every single day with anyone we encountered. This made for a very beneficial experience and basically made the classroom the size of the city! But in any program, students are learning so much past the lectures and are living out their education, and that is just about priceless.
Barcelona is a magical place, full of interesting people. I don't think it was an accident that I was placed in this program. It has provided me with so many new memories, experiences, skills, food, talents, and more food. This trip has helped me discover things that will greatly benefit my future and for that i say, THANK YOU BARCELONA!
43,200 minutes down. And I already want to go back!