A year ago, (2021) I was unsure of the probability of being able to study abroad. Due to COVID-19 and travel restrictions, I had doubts but I also always kept filling out applications hoping it would still happen. My computer screen was filled with different tabs and programs because I did not know what program to choose. If I didn’t complete certain courses, then I couldn’t graduate. I knew I wanted to go to Spain, but Barcelona and Madrid seemed too big for me. Seville had the classes I needed to graduate as well as a 2-week Spanish immersive course that allowed me to travel to Spain two weeks before my classes at the Universidad de Sevilla began. Seville was perfect! It is home to over 2000 years of art and culture along with the famous dancing of Flamenco, Semana Santa, and Feria de Sevilla. I was able to fully immerse myself into the culture because of the ability to easily walk everywhere which made me feel as if I were a local. Even after travelling many weekends and visiting eight different countries, every time I finished a trip, I continued to tell myself that I chose the perfect city.
When I first arrived at the Seville airport, every staff member and every new friend was very welcoming. Every student was in the same boat as me because most students in my program came not knowing anyone. We all had stuff in common of choosing the same city, and we all knew the importance of seeing the world. Some students were dropped off at their apartments, but I was taken to the ISA center to meet my host family. Immediately putting my hand out there to shake my host family’s hand, they said they do not do that here and gave me two besos (kisses) on the cheek. Being jet-lagged and going home with a stranger to their home, seeing my new room and bathroom, I was extremely nervous using my Spanish. This is when I realized that my host family didn’t speak one word of English. Slowly I started to realize that the Spain dialect of Spanish is different from that of Mexico, which is what I have been learning my entire life. I was overwhelmed with the change but then I realized, okay I am not a tourist, this is my home for the next four months.
Studying abroad during my time at UTC was the best decision I have ever made. Every day I felt the most present and the happiest I have ever been in my life. I loved meeting my new life-long friends from my program which I got to plan and go on trips with. I did not realize how easy and cheap it was to travel around Europe. I got to connect with people around the world which made me realize how much in common we actually have. I had informing conversations and interactions, and I was told that I was the first American that some of these people have ever met. That felt special to me because I love leaving a good impression on new people that I meet. Overall, I learned more about other cultures and myself as an individual than I would ever learn in a classroom setting. I encourage others to put themselves out there in an unfamiliar place, this is a perfect time in your life to find your passions and to see the world in a different mindset.
Olivia Allen (BA Communication) spent Spring 2022 studying abroad in Seville, Spain through ISA. Mackayla had the following to say about studying abroad, “I learned more about other cultures and myself as an individual than I would ever learn in a classroom setting. I encourage others to put themselves out there in an unfamiliar place, this is a perfect time in your life to find your passions and to see the world in a different mindset.”
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