I didn’t realize how fast time could fly until I found myself packing up the remnants of the best four months of my life and saying goodbye to a place that will always be home. My time spent studying abroad in Barcelona seemed to have pass in the blink of an eye but I will forever be grateful for my experience, the friends and relationships I made, the places I traveled to, and the lessons I learned both inside and outside of the classroom. Rather than get all sentimental about leaving, I figured I would use my last post to touch on some of my favorite trips and leave some advice for people studying abroad in the future that I wish someone had given me.
After having been home for a few weeks now, I have perfected my answer to the most asked question, “Where was your favorite place you visited?” It is nearly impossible to pick a favorite city after having visited a total of 15. I categorized my answer into 4 different places, all for specific reasons. First, my favorite overall trip, location aside, was Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day. This was the most fun weekend because all of my friends met up from all over Europe and the energy throughout the city was amazing. It was such a great time being reunited with so many people I hadn’t seen in weeks and it was a check off my bucket list being able to celebrate in St. Patty’s in Ireland. The second is the prettiest place I visited, Lagos, Portugal. While this wasn’t one of the more cultural or activity packed trips, the beaches were the most beautiful place I have ever been. The sand was lined with the types of shells you would buy in a souvenir shop and the water was crystal clear. It made for the perfect spring break destination to recuperate after midterms. And lastly, London, England because it is a place I could see myself living one day. I felt so comfortable walking down the streets and loved the feel of the city. But it is no secret that Barcelona will always hold number one for me for no specific reason other than it is the greatest city in the world.
As for advice I would give people who are going to study abroad.
- It’s okay to do things alone, I actually encourage it. There are so many times you will want to do something that the whole group won’t want to do, and it is okay to go by yourself!!! The hour or two spent alone at a museum or restaurant is nothing compared to how mad you will be at yourself if you leave somewhere not doing something you wanted to do just because you couldn’t find anyone to do it with. Plus there are so many other people doing the same thing alone it isn’t weird at all.
- Don’t follow the crowd. I made the mistake of trying to mirror the experience of people who studied abroad before me by going to all the same restaurants and planning the same trips, rather than doing my own exploration and finding my own places. It wasn’t until half way through that I stopped using the guides people had sent me, and I had such a difference experience.
- Under pack, you will shop A LOT
- Take lots of pictures, write a journal, send post cards… what ever you have to do to document your experience and keep your memories. Like I said, the semester flies by and soon you will just be living it through your memories and you don’t want to forget!
- Let the little things go. If you are going to survive four months traveling a continent, you have to learn to let the little things go. There is a very high chance you will book a wrong flight, loose a wallet or break a phone (if it sounds like I am talking from experience, it is because I am) and it is best to just let it go.