My guess is, if you are reading essays by students who have studied abroad through UTC, you are considering it yourself. You are where I was a year ago- possibly unsure of where you want to go or even if you want to go in the first place. This semester I spent 4 months studying in Barcelona, Spain. I didn’t know a single person there and I walked into the semester with so many unknowns and fears. All of these were tightly tangled into excitement and the need to take a risk and do something different with my time. If you are feeling any of this- I get you.
Barcelona, I learned, is a city between the mountains and the beach. So there is night life in the city, hiking on one side, and sunbathing on the other. It truly holds so many options for how you spend your time, in 4 months I barely felt like I had done everything I wanted to. The people are always out and about and life moves fast. They value time spent together over long meals and food. They really value food. All the bread and oil you could ever want.
I also had so much time and encouragement to travel. I saw a lot of Europe and learned what I like and dislike about cities, countries, and traveling in general. I also improved my Spanish in a conversational way I don’t believe I could have done through classes in America.
Mainly however, I learned about myself. I learned that living in another country and culture can be very hard on some days. I learned that I don’t like public transportation or not having a yard. I also learned that I love walking to a coffee shop and Spanish architecture. I learned that you truly can make friends anywhere, and traveling with people connects you in a deep and cool way. I learned that feelings of missing home are temporary if you are willing to go out and immerse yourself in a new place. I learned
that somewhere 4000 miles away from UTC can still feel like home.
I could write all day explaining how I have grown through this process- but if you are reading through essays because you are considering studying abroad yourself- what I really want to say is that you can totally do it. There will be obstacles and frustrating pieces but the experience of pushing yourself to unknown places is so healthy and so fun. You don’t have to have everything figured out. You will adjust, things will feel more familiar the longer you are there. Just go!
Lillian Redpath is majoring in Social Work. She spent a semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain through CISabroad. Lillian had the following to share about her time abroad, “Learning to adjust, grow, and thrive in a different country has been my most impactful and important college experience so far.”
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