When I first decided to study abroad, I was not fully aware of the journey I was about to get into. My thought was that I was going to go to the city, and essentially just go to school in another country. While that was true, the experiences I had abroad were honestly life changing. I traveled, made friends for a lifetime, and had an entire shift in perspective about what life should entail.
Barcelona was the perfect location to choose in terms of studying abroad. While I do speak Spanish, if I was someone who did not it would’ve been easy to learn while I was there, and almost everyone in Europe can speak enough English to get me by. The fact that mostly everyone in Europe speaks a minimum of two languages fluently was incredible to me. I wanted so badly to be fluent in a second language and not be the American stereotype of someone who only speaks English and expects everyone else to as well, but they weren’t overtly judgmental because they understand how our own culture works for the most part. It was very interesting to think about how I was perceived while perceiving those around me. I traveled to many countries while I was in Spain. Those were Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, and the UK. The longest flight I took was only two hours, and I also traveled by train quite often. My friends and I even drove to France!
Experiencing the different cultures in all the countries was very eye-opening as well. As an example, in Spain, the Spanish take Siesta between the hours of 2-6 pm, in which they simply take a nap or just go home and be with their family. Many stores, restaurants, schools, and companies will close anywhere between these hours, and it is expected to take that break. They wake up later than we do for work, have their break, then continue to work later. After this, they will have a later dinner than is normal here and go out to a bar, club, or just hang out at a park or common space. This practice was like that of France as well, in terms of their attitude towards the workday. The feeling I experienced traveling was unlike anything else I’ve ever felt. I met so many people and we would have so many different conversations about our own countries, politics, religion, food, stereotypes, and anything else we wanted to ask each other. We communicated with more than just words, as expressions and gestures are very important and often used in Europe.
API stood out to me because of the wide range of locations they offered, and reading statements from past participants was very helpful because they all seemed so passionate about it. All of the people I met in my program were all similar in their global mindset. Most everyone wanted to travel to as many places as they could, and we would often go together. I took two solo trips while I was there, to Ireland and Paris. These were so fulfilling, and I highly encourage everyone to take at least one solo trip, but the trips I took with my friends were exciting and amazing. It was incredible to experience these things with them. I would encourage anyone to travel abroad if they are able. It doesn’t matter where you go as there will always be so much to see, learn, and experience. You will meet the most amazing people and form bonds for life. There is truly nothing comparable to studying abroad in the amount of life you get from it.
Madison Cope (BA Humanities: International Studies) spent the Fall 2023 semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain through API. Madison had the following to say about studying abroad, “Studying abroad was the best decision I’ve ever made. Through my program, I met countless lifelong friends and gained invaluable experiences. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone even remotely considering it!”
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