I can’t believe how quickly my months in Spain have come to a close. I remember leaving for the airport, not realizing how nerve-wrecking it would be to go off to another country alone. I will never forget trying to pack to be gone for 3 months. I ended up under packing and bringing all my clothes in one backpack, which allowed me to buy more clothes abroad and bring back home; although, I would highly recommend bringing all the necessities, such as typical medicines like Ibuprofen, with you abroad and not relying on buying everything there. This is because you may need something the first week and not have the opportunity to go get it immediately. As well as everything in another country is different and can be stressful to buy if you are unaware of certain information.
Sometimes change can be scary, especially when you’re in the thick of it. Once I landed in Madrid, the rush of excitement and nerves kicked straight back in; I remember asking myself, “What did I just get into?”. Once we landed, we were asked to grab our luggage and meet our study abroad greeters at Terminal 1. While heading to the baggage claim, I looked around and noticed at least thirty other students from the States. We all began chatting among ourselves and learned that we were all going to be living in Seville for the next few months. At that moment, I began to feel at ease and see other students who were just like me, with little Spanish skills who were going to be living in a homestay with a non-English speaking family.
Although most everyone in our group were very different from one another and from different States, our group grew close and became like a second family. I had the opportunity to travel to 5 other countries with students among my program, these included: Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Iceland, and Portugal. Through the ups and downs I experienced while traveling, such as the long flight delays and booking air bnbs in the wrong towns, I was reminded the importance of stillness. Sitting in the slower moments where I often want to move and get out of, yet the more I would try to move, the more stuck I’d feel. This time of stillness brought a new peace of mind to letting go of this busy lifestyle that I had been striving for and trying to be the same me who I use to be.
I was reminded that as we grow, we change and to be intentional with all that I do, whether it was teaching English to my Spaniard students, having dinner with my host mom, or simply getting up out of bed. Now that I’m back on campus in the United States, everything feels new again. I value my campus from the beautiful buildings and all the opportunities that allow you to be plugged into a university. This experience brought a new appreciation of cultures to me and a new level of respect for diversity; I did not realize how different each country was from one another. I will forever be grateful for this abroad opportunity and the financial resources that the university provided me.
Katherine McClanahan is majoring in Elementary Education and spent the Fall 2019 semester studying abroad in Sevilla, Spain through ISA. Katherine had the following to say about studying abroad, “I would tell future study abroad students that going abroad requires lots of organization and planning, but a rewarding experience that has forever changed me in such positive ways that will impact my future. It gave me the courage to be fearless.”
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