Open Letter to Myself & All Other Study Abroad Students

Chirlien Pang
November 1, 2016

Halloween, especially in Barcelona, is super fun, and coincidentally one of my favorite holidays, but as I was putting on my costume to go out yesterday, it was also a reminder that this abroad experience is a little over half done (or for the optimist, there is still half left).

I vividly remember my nervousness as I sat on the plane coming here with all of these expectations, and the first day of orientation when we listed our goals for study abroad. While it was a slow start, these two months have definitely flown by and have left me wondering where all the time went. This post is not supposed to be a downer but instead motivational. While it is sad to know that my time in Spain is almost over, it makes me want to make sure that I do everything that I want to do before I leave. I have thus made a bucket list of all of the activities and sites I can realistically do and see in the time that I have left here.

Some that I have recently checked off include seeing the inside of the Sagrada Familia. While it's certainly a touristy area and will most likely be filled with people, it is a must. I would recommend buying tickets beforehand (there was an under-30 promotion going on when I went), and going when it's sunny so that the lights shine through the stained glass. Gaudí was an amazing architect, and out of all the works that I’ve seen from him, this was the one that left me speechless.

I also made the trip to Monserrat, which is a mountain range area and a monastery near Barcelona. My friends and I chose the train and cable car option, but that unfortunately took us an extra hour of waiting on line. However, the views of Montserrat surpassed my expectations. They were so beautiful and breath-taking, and I felt so tiny in this world compared to all of the mountains around me. I missed the choir singing because I got there too late, and I did not make it all the way to the top of the mountain because of the time constraint, but it was still so worth the trip and has been one of the peaks (no pun intended ;) ) of studying abroad so far.

Finally, based on the recommendation of some friends, I went to the Búnquers del Carmel, which was an old bunker during the civil war but is now a lookout point from where I could see the whole city. It is free, which is a huge plus, and not many tourists know about it. It was so fun and relaxing to bring some wine and food, chat with friends, and watch the sunset.

However, the tourist attractions are the easy things to do. Some activities that I have not gotten the chance to do yet are to meet some real locals, try to step out of my normal routine and out of the city center, and try new restaurants and foods in Barcelona. It’s easy to fall into a pattern and a schedule with school and hanging out with the same crowd. I know that in the coming weeks, I need to put more effort into meeting locals at my outside university, and to take even one day out of the week to try something different. Moreover, I need to take the advice that I gave myself during my first week here, and do these things even if they’re a little scary, and I don’t have someone to go with.

What I am saying to myself and to anyone else studying abroad who is feeling like there’s not enough time in a day or a week to do everything is that it’s okay. What’s important is to be realistic and know what you absolutely want to do before leaving and actually put those things in motion. I know the worst feeling as I’m on the return flight home would be regret and wishing that I had done that one thing on my bucket list. Talk soon!



More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Chirlien Pang

<p>Hi! My name is Chirlien and I am a native New Yorker, going to school at the at the University of Rochester. While I am a science student, I also really enjoy writing, photography,and journalism. I am so excited to be studying abroad in Barcelona this fall. Come with me on this journey as I try to learn the ropes of Barcelona&#39;s unique culture and people-hopefully I don&#39;t get too lost!</p>

2016 Fall
Home University:
University of Rochester
Explore Blogs