Number One: I learned, and got to experience, another way of living other than the way I live my life in the United States. Everyone’s experiences are going to be different in every country because of people’s history, education, economic level, health, ect., but these factors are also treated differently by the governments and the local people of the country you are in. For example, Spain has one of the highest life expectancy rates and the doctors and dentists here cost way way less than any care you could receive in the US. The way classes are taught and the way they administer tests are also different- plus there is very little homework in a typical class. In the US we have about a month or two for winter break but here they usually have over two months. As you’ve heard me rave about before, the transportation system in Europe is ridiculous. On every social media page at home I hear about people making fun of the Boston train system because of how messy it is. Here people hop on trains and cross borders and still arrive on time. Sure, there are occasional delays, but it is not like in the US where it is a known fact that the transportation systems WILL be late. Also, a really sad fact that isn’t discussed enough is how it is not socially acceptable to pet dogs in public. In the US you can go up to anyone and they will understand if you ask to pet there dog, but here people will think you’re crazy.
Number Two: There is always more to learn from the people around you. My school is full of Americans because only Americans can take the classes offered here. These students come from all different states and have many different majors so their outlook and experiences in life are all very different. In Morocco I spent the five days with a student from Michigan who goes to a school in Florida and spent her summer in Jordan and Greece. Learning about her experience helping the community in Jordan was incredibly enlightening and her input in our Middle East class comes from first hand experience. Another student from Michigan spent his summer in Wyoming and decided to go to Sevilla because of a flip of a coin. He told me about how all of his major life decisions come down to a single flip of a coin and how it has definitely changed his life for the better and worst at different times. One of my conversations with him included a discussion about the future of the world and AI’s role in it and it was all quite interesting. Two students that go to UMass Amherst are from a town right next to the one my friend lives in and one of the students actually worked at the town she lives in over the summer. Hannah, spent her summer working with the Democratic Party and her stories of her experience will certainly play a role in what career paths I pursue.
Number Two (A) The important thing to realize here is that the people around you are invaluable resources you should spend time getting to know. Learning about your peers and where they come from can give you a better perspective in life and can connect you to people you may never see again but will remain in contact with forever. You only have a limited time with these people, so cherish the moments and never give up opportunities to learn more about each other.
Number Three: It’s okay to take time to breathe. At school I am a very fast paced, always moving to the next place to do something else kind of person, but in Spain I’ve had more time to slow down and relax. I’ve been able to go on runs in the morning, cafes during the day, and parks in the evening. I have quite literally had time to stop and smell the roses. This laid back lifestyle has allowed me to enjoy my time in Sevilla, but I am ready to get back into action. I am grateful that I have been able to take advantage of my time here and explore the museums, architecture, and busy streets of Sevilla because it made me feel more welcomed in the community.
Number Three (A) Students should study abroad because the feeling of getting acquainted in a new community with new people and a different atmosphere is amazing. Being able to walk around a new place and discover cafes that locals pass on an everyday basis, but that you find just incredible is so rewarding. It is in these moments that you treasure the little things and the reason that you studied abroad comes together. It is a recognition that even though in the beginning it’s hard to adjust it is so worth it to feel like you’ve found a new temporary home. That feeling alone is a worthwhile reason for anyone to study abroad.