Through my time abroad, I feel like I have lived an entirely separate life, one that a handful of people from across the world know about and got to share with me. Now having these connections from all over, I may actually make it to Canada to relive some of these memories
made during my time in Spain with one of my friends from my study abroad program. Being
back at home with my friends and family, I have these memories that seem so surreal; I can
barely believe I have already done so many things and seen so many places and am only 20 years old.
Now that I have this experience under my belt, the saying “the world is my oyster” actually feels genuine and possible and traveling to more foreign places doesn’t seem so outlandish anymore. Not only has my travel confidence skyrocketed, my own self confidence has grown. My decision making and trusting my intuition are something I can confidently rely on. Living independently for months away from comfortability forces you to grow up and trust yourself, as well as trusting others who are there to help you. Asking for help from strangers who may or may not share identity or a language with you was a vulnerable task for me to overcome, but I quickly realized how essential it was.
The affordability is also something that I am now more aware of. Going anywhere, it is your decision to budget or not, but no matter where you go, there will always be cheap options that are just as fun or tasty. I almost always chose the cheap route, meaning lots of my flights were at the crack of dawn or the last flight out for the night, but I would say it is well worth it for being able to fly to a different continent for $52 or to an island for $12.
In my first few weeks when my friends and I were planning the trips, I would be on Skyscanner almost every night searching for the cheapest place we could go during the weekends or on breaks. These moments were some of my favorites; the excitement and possibility was never ending, but it wasn’t hypothetical for once, it was really somewhere I was going to go. I was able to visit Rome in Italy, Marseille in France, Sintra and Lisbon in Portugal, Marrakech and Rabat in Morocco, London and Edinburgh in the UK, and Ibiza, Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Ronda, Valencia, and Madrid in Spain. None of this would have been possible if it wasn’t for the location of my program. Being a train ride away from Madrid, which is one of the biggest international airports in Europe, means I can go basically anywhere and for the cheapest prices. Ryanair and I formed a close relationship during my time abroad, and I already miss it being back in the States.
In hindsight, being an Anthropology and Economics major, going to a Criminal Justice program probably wasn’t the best call on my end; but nonetheless, I learned critical life skills through this program in Alcala de Henares, Spain and I will always thank this place for allowing me the opportunity to come and live through one of the highlights of my college experience while simultaneously traveling and growing.
McKenna Patterson (BS Anthropology, BA Economics) spent Spring 2023 studying abroad in Alcala de Henares, Spain through a direct enroll at the Universidad de Alcala. McKenna had the following to say about studying abroad, “Coming to Alcalá de Henares, Spain to study abroad for my spring semester was an experience I will remember and be thankful for the rest of my life and it has challenged me to grow as a person in quite a short span of time. During my three months here, I have had the opportunity to travel to seven different countries as well as travel within Spain. The location of my program was ideal as it was pretty close to Madrid, so flights are both cheaper and easier to find. Strengthening independence, challenging comfortability, and broadening your horizons are three reasons why I think everyone should look at the opportunity of studying abroad; plus, it’s much cheaper than I would have ever imagined!”
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