When I was sixteen, my grandparents took me and my older sister on a trip to the UK. It was my first time out of the United States. When I was eighteen, my grandparents took me with them on a trip to Spain. I had the privilege of getting to experience going abroad at a young age, and I very quickly found a love for it. When I saw the opportunity for this internship in Cádiz, I was quick to apply. I knew that I loved to travel, but I was surprised by how quickly I fell in love with the city and its people. Because of this experience I truly believe that I am a better version of myself.
Before I entered college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. However, I did not have a way to pay for it. Luckily, I found the UTC/ UCA (University of Cádiz) program. This program is set up as a paid internship. You have to apply for a spot, and then the most qualified applicants are chosen. Another great thing about this opportunity is that your living and travel expenses are paid for. I was glad that this was an internship rather than a typical study abroad trip, because the research experience that I gained was very beneficial to my future career path. Outside of the program being very affordable, the city of Cádiz is nothing short of stunning. The history of this city and Andalucia as a whole is about as rich as it gets. There is something new to do around every corner and the people are very friendly.
During my nine weeks in Cádiz, I was able to travel to over 10 other Spanish cities including Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. We stayed in hostels, airbnb’s and often took day trips on the train. Traveling around a different country improved my confidence in traveling and only strengthened my love for it. I learned a lot about all of the different types of public transportation and even how to take really nice trips on a budget. My peers and I quickly learned that prices for things are less than that of the United States, so with our stipend we were able to really enjoy everything that Cádiz had to offer. We did things including but not limited to: hiking, taking weekend trips, took city tours, attended carnivals, and got to visit many museums. My favorite was our trip to Rhonda. Rhonda is a gorgeous city at the top of a mountain with incredible views and architecture. Some of the students and myself actually ended up hiking all the way down to the water below and then all the way back up to catch the bus. These are the memories I will hold on to for the rest of my life.
More personally, this trip was an experience of a lifetime. I formed many good friendships with both the people in my program and the residents of Cádiz. I was sure to do my best to stay present in the moment and take advantage of all of the things around me. The other students and I would often do something almost everyday whether it was trying a new restaurant across the street or riding scooters to the beach. On the research side of things, I got to learn about what it means to be a researcher. Additionally, I improved my collaborating skills when there is a language barrier. It made me a more patient, more focused, and more confident scientist.
I strongly encourage anyone who is thinking of applying to this program or a different study abroad program to definitely do so. It can seem a little scary at first, but you will acclimate quickly and it will be worth it. I find myself thinking about this trip a lot and I’m very grateful for the people it has introduced me to.
Bailee Kusch (BS Chemistry) participated in the Summer 2022 international summer learning opportunity for students offered through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors. The International Summer Undergraduate Research Program represents a collaboration between The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Cadiz in Spain. The purpose of the initiative is to support students to participate in an eight (8) week intensive research experience during the summer in a global environment. Bailee had the following to say about studying abroad, “Take this as an opportunity for growth. It could be the experience of a lifetime.”
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