Spring of 2019 I made one of the most impulsive yet fruitful decisions of my college career. I decided that I wanted to study abroad. With my college career almost to an end I knew that this would be one of the last opportunities to do something this BIG! The decision slowly crept up on me for weeks before I decided to pull the trigger and meet with my abroad advisor to discuss whether or not it would even be a possibility. Roughly a month or so later I was sitting on a plane in Atlanta preparing for the long trip ahead to Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

It was a long 22 hours worth of traveling but I was able to travel with another student on my trip from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. She was one of the many friends I was able to make over the course of my month. I made friends from Missouri, Colorado, Chicago, Detroit, and plenty of friends from Spain. Nevertheless. my host mom Maria was easily one of the most influential people I had the opportunity to spend time with. Not only did she provide me with a place to stay, but she also had food prepared for me every day and helped me improve upon my Spanish in an unconventional but beneficial trial by fire method. She has become a second mother to me and has offered me a spot in her place any time I come back to Spain. I completely believe that without Maria my trip would have been nowhere near as good as it was.

I was able to make a ton of great memories on this trip as well. When you are traveling with a set time-frame it really motivates you to seize the day and take advantage of every second you have. Every day I was meeting a new person and making a new memory. My first week was especially memorable given that we did a large chunk of our activities the first few weeks. I was driven by pure excitement and was going out every day after class to see more of the city, try new food, and create as many memories as possible. Some of my favorite memories were cliff jumping for the first time with all my classmates, running from the demons at the Sant Joan festival, tapas nights, weekend trips to Barcelona, and exploring all of the many beaches on the island.

I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend a month of my summer. This trip not only provided me with education that helped me gain experience in my field of study, but also provided me with so many other skills. I learned how to better deal with diverse groups of peers. I learned enough Spanish to communicate on a day to day basis. I learned that solo travel is transformative. I learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is tough but will always be for the best in the long run. Most importantly I learned how much I love to travel and that I want to continue to have experiences like this as I grow older.

Hayden Moneymaker is majoring in SORT Management and studied abroad Summer 2019 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain with CIEE. Hayden had the following to say about studying abroad, “No matter where you go, no matter for how long, no matter what you’re studying; spending time studying abroad will always make life long priceless memories.”

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