I recently studied abroad in Seville, Spain and attended the Universidad Pablo de Olavide. Seville is located in the southern part of Spain and is the capital of the region Andalucía. During my time in Spain, I had the opportunity to travel to many regions and cities within the country, and, in my opinion, no other place compares to the authentic, vibrant Spanish culture that Seville offers. There is no better place to try tapas and sangria while enjoying some Flamenco. Seville is one of the hottest cities in Europe, so I enjoyed the warm temperatures during the entire term, from September until December. I can safely say I never expected not to want a semester in college to be over soon enough. Reminiscing and reflecting on my experience studying abroad is common, which never fails to bring back good feelings. Studying abroad was one of the best experiences I have had in my life so far. The people I met along the way, the places I traveled to, and things I learned made this experience unforgettable.
When you choose to go abroad, you have no choice but to adapt to your new surroundings the best way possible. It automatically forces you to get out of your comfort zone and become accustomed to a new way of living, adapting to a new daily routine and an entirely new diet. In my case, adopting the Mediterranean diet was not a problem. As you move to a foreign country, you are seeking discomfort in the best ways possible. It means that you are open to self-growth through experiences you would not normally be exposed to in the comfort of life back home. These experiences can be traced as your goals and can range from learning an entirely new language, more about a culture, or simply how to get from point A to point B in a foreign country (even though you do not speak a word of that language). Consequently, it boosts your confidence and problem-solving skills as you are responsible for yourself entirely.
Language is a big aspect that you have to adapt to, as most times the student is not fluent in the language of the country where they are studying abroad. Though in Europe many people speak English, you still have to read a menu, street signs, and talk to locals in their language out of respect. Besides learning Spanish on the streets and at home with Rosa and Noberto, my host parents, I also took a class at the university which helped a lot. Learning as much Spanish as possible was one of the goals I traced during my time abroad. Starting as a person who had very little knowledge of Spanish, it is safe to say that I improved a great deal during these months. By the end of the program, having a casual conversation with locals became an easy task.
Going abroad or simply traveling for the fun of it, you learn more than just what a book would teach you. You learn from daily experiences, your adventures and of course, the daily exposure to the different culture and the locals. Overall, I am happy with everything I experienced in Spain. I was able to travel to eight different countries and learn a little bit about each place I visited. From scuba diving in the Canary Islands to riding mopeds along the coast of Italy, that semester for sure was full of adrenaline and good memories. Seville became a second home and I already miss the weather and the packed streets vibrant with life. For sure, I will be back someday and knock on Rosa's door to give her a huge hug. For now, I will use all the things I learned abroad, such as the appreciation and respect for different cultures, in my everyday life.