When I first decided to go on this study abroad I was confident in my decision. I always knew that I would one day study abroad even before I started college. I chose Barcelona because I always wanted to visit and it was perfect for my program. I made sure to do research to understand the cultural nuances over there, but I didn’t look at a single picture of the city before I went there other than the pictures provided on PowerPoints we had to read through. I did this because I wanted to explore and experience everything first hand.
When I landed in the unfamiliar land it didn’t feel too different from walking around an American airport. I don’t think it fully hit me that I was in a different time zone and just how far away from my friends and family I was. I arrived a day earlier than my classmates because my flight was cheaper that way, which was a plus. However, I traded my cheaper ticket for the luxury of having a shuttle that takes me to my destination. That night I quickly learned how to use the metro due to my circumstances. I did have to sacrifice my pride a bit due to my directional questions to those whose first language wasn’t even English. I eventually found my way to the dormitory where I would be spending the next three weeks, Beyoo Marina.
My first night at Beyoo was surprisingly comforting despite being completely alone in a foreign land. There were other international students at the apartments and they were very friendly and welcoming. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I was a bit nervous for the next day to meet my classmates. I never met any of these people prior so it was going to be a completely new experience and I didn’t know what was to come.
The morning after I woke up right at 8:00 AM despite going to sleep late. I think my mind was just ready to get it over with. I had the same feeling I would have if I was preparing for a job interview. These are the people I’m going to be spending the duration of my trip with. I have to make a good impression. I kept playing different scenarios in my head of how the interactions would go. In all my interactions I kept the expectation that I would meet all my classmates at once and as they hopped off the shuttle. I wasn’t fond of that scenario. Just thinking about it filled me with anxiety. They would have already met each other at the airport and gravitated with one another so I would be the last student they met. I don’t know why that put so much pressure on me but it did. That’s when I decided I would just stay in my room till the tour. I still got dressed and took a shower of course, and I made sure to grab a quick bite for breakfast. After that I just waited.
I was in the middle of watching some cheesy Netflix comedy when I heard the door knob wriggle. It was my roommate, Mason. He was nice and made me feel better about meeting the rest of the gang. Little by little I started meeting more of my classmates and they were all very easy to get along with. It was the complete opposite of what my anxiety had envisioned.
For the duration of the trip I noticed how good of shape my mental health was in. Back in the states my anxiety would come and go but in Barcelona I felt so much like myself and the pressure and stress I was used to was absent. I don’t know if it was the sun, the people, or the food but I always felt so at ease and comfortable. Barcelona started to feel like a second home to me. Even when we went on a weekend trip to Paris I felt a bit homesick from Barcelona because of how much personality it had. From the pizza place we would hang out at almost about every night to the cheap Doner Kebabs and Tapas we would eat. Everything just felt so right.
The workshops we participated in were very informative and interesting and gave me reassurance that I was going to do something I loved for my career. I enjoyed the cooking, graffiti, and mosaic workshops the most because it allowed me to be creative and work on things outside of my comfort zone. I loved seeing the inside of La Sagrada Familia and how beautiful a work in progress can be.
I am very fortunate that my peers and I were able to enjoy the city for so long. These experiences and memories will be remembered and cherished for years to come and I am glad I was able to share the moments with such great people.
Jaheim Williams (BA Communication) spent the Summer 2023 studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain as part of a Communications department faculty led trip through API. Jaheim had the following to say about studying abroad, “If you’re deciding if you want to study abroad or not. Just do it. Don’t think too hard about it. It’s an experience that’s worth it in the long run.”
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