Battling the Odds... AND Infinite Emails: The Third Time’s the Charm

Audrey Glas
August 16, 2021

Hi there! My name is Audrey Glas, and I’m from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I’ve lived in Harrisburg my whole life, and I go to school at Gettysburg College only about an hour away. I’ve traveled to quite a few states outside of Pennsylvania, but my only experience outside of the U.S. was one time, for one day to hike in Canada; and I didn’t even get a stamp on my passport. As an aspiring traveler, I’ve been longing to travel, so to say I’m excited to be in Madrid is an understatement!

Preparing to study abroad is a lot of work, and it’s nothing like preparing to return to a semester at Gettysburg. There are tons of applications, forms, dashboards, meetings, and emails upon emails (as I write this I just got another email). Not only from IES Abroad, but also from my home institution. I’ve been bombarded with communications about everything imaginable. It’s not just about taking a vacation to another nation, it’s more like a temporary move abroad. Moving my life to another country, which includes everything from obtaining a student visa to deciding how many pairs of socks to bring, has been no small task. I say this not to complain about the work required to step onto Spanish soil for the first time, but rather to be honest about how much of an effort it has been. By itself, studying abroad is a big thing, and it’s an even bigger deal during a pandemic.
I have wanted to travel out of the country as long as I can remember, but due to financial constraints, if felt impossible. I decided I’d have to wait to travel until I could do a semester abroad during college. IES Abroad Madrid – Language and Area Studies is the 3rd program I have tried to participate in, and the 1st I’ll actually get to experience. I was going to go to Oaxaca, Mexico. Then I was going to go to Montevideo, Uruguay. Both programs were canceled. Something I wouldn’t necessarily recommend is trying to study abroad in the middle of a pandemic, but that’s out of my hands. Even before I get on the plane to Spain, I can see the incredible value in the experience. It’s something so valuable that I haven’t given up after a year of failures leading up to my Spain trip that I’m manifesting into existence. I can’t yet confidently say it’s been worth it, but I’ll keep you updated. Nowhere else can I learn about myself, another culture, and spend time practicing another language than studying abroad somewhere like Madrid.
For me, this is an entirely new thing to be navigating. But in 2021, I’m far from the first person to study abroad. This has given me the privilege of the knowledge of the people who came before me and the aid of the experienced study abroad professionals. I’ve been gifted the guidance of not only IES Abroad, but also that of my home institution’s study abroad office. Using this kind of organization allows me to have the cultural immersion in a safe way. I’m not dropped in the middle of Madrid, I’m nudged through the process of picking my program and figuring out how much of my money I should change into euros before I board my flight.

Since I had my study abroad canceled twice and have so much uncertainty about the future, I am ready to take on everything Madrid has for me. I want to be as prepared as possible to take advantage of every opportunity in the short amount of time I will have there. I’m spending all my time researching hidden gems in Madrid, the best places to eat, the things I need to explore, and the best adventures to take in Spain to make the most of my experience. After all of this planning, I anxiously await sitting on a plane for 12 hours, or rather the moment I get to step off of the plane into my home for the following 3 months. I’d say I’m equally excited for and terrified of the unknowns that are waiting for me in Madrid.

Hopefully my final blog will tell you everything I learned and what I got from the experience with as much detail as possible. Ideally, I will be able to tell you exactly what I learned about Spanish culture, what I learned about myself, and how it changed my life. But for now, I have to figure out how to pack a semester worth of my life into only a few small bags.

To those of you who are still contemplating if study abroad is right for you, I say this: it is. There is no better time in your life to learn about the world and be right there in the thick of things. As a college student, your mind is prepped and ready to take in everything and learn as much as possible. Nearly everyone who has studied abroad describes the experience as life changing and incredible. Though it seems cliché, if everyone is saying it following months of an immersive cultural experience, there has to be some truth to it. The best way to learn about the world is to live in it, and the best way to learn about a culture is to be immersed in it. I am so excited to start my adventure studying abroad in Madrid with IES Abroad!

Audrey Glas

<p>I am a student at Gettysburg College '22 studying Political Science, Spanish, and Peace and Justice Studies. Studying abroad in the Madrid - Language and Area Studies Program Fall 2021 is my first real experience abroad and I am excited to engage with the cultural experience I will have access to exploring Spain! In my free time I enjoy baking, cooking, listening to every genre of music, hiking, and other outside activities. I'm so excited to take a break from my small historical battlefield college town and move to a big capital city in a new country with a whole different history!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Gettysburg College
Harrisburg, PA
Political Science
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