An Abroad Reflection: Saying “Yes” to New Experiences

Headshot of Kai da Luz.
Kai da Luz
May 19, 2023

After the end of my program and some traveling while abroad, I finally find myself home in sunny San Diego, California. Salamanca has been the best semester of my life, a semester full of fun surprises and new experiences around every corner. While I have decidedly improved my Spanish and have learned a lot of new things living abroad the past three months, the thing that I will cherish most about this semester, and something that I will hold with me in the semesters that come, is the willingness and openness to say yes to life and to new experiences. 

I have always been a very focused student. I enjoy volunteering and being involved on campus in my free time, or working as a freelance tutor. As a result, whenever new fun experiences have come my way, I all-too-often bow out, citing a slew of excuses that I am too busy or that I should be studying for something or another. 

When first beginning my semester abroad in Spain, I had a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish during the semester. I would focus on improving my Spanish and immersing myself in the culture, tackling my time abroad like an item on a checklist. I came to Salamanca with my head down focused on the path, so utterly determined to make the most of the experience, that I was already forgetting to stop and smell the flowers in the first week. 

After Orientation had finished, I was settled into Salamanca, still with my same overly dogged determination in navigating my experience, when I was invited on a trip to Madrid with some other IES Abroad Salamanca students. At first, I hesitated and asked myself if it was too soon for a weekend trip. I had just arrived in Salamanca, and in my pre-abroad plan, I had determined that I was not going to do any weekend trips until after the first few weeks. I cannot explain why, but for some wonderful reason, I decided to say yes and prepared myself to head out to Madrid that weekend with a new group of friends. Little did I know this small yes led to making some of the best friends I could have hoped for.

Our weekend in Madrid was an absolute blast, and was followed by many other weekends traveling all over the place. Each time, I decided to continue saying yes, and each time I was met with one great experience, one great story after the other. With that one yes, my whole world was opened up. 

I continued to say yes throughout the semester. I said yes to playing volleyball with the local students. I said yes to grabbing weekly coffees with some people I met from the university. I said yes to trying new foods, and yes again to nearly every opportunity that came my way. With every yes, I was greeted with a fantastic time, making my abroad experience better than I could have ever imagined. For someone like me who is very meticulous and specific in their approach, I found myself championing a new openness and readiness to take on new challenges this semester. I stopped worrying so much about the outcome and just enjoyed the ride, allowing me a more authentic experience than would have been before possible.

As I step into the summer and anticipate my next semester in the Fall back at my university in the United States, I look forward to carrying the readiness to say yes and remembering that not everything needs to be planned every step of the way. 

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Headshot of Kai da Luz.

Kai da Luz

My name is Kai da Luz and I am a current sophomore at Villanova University who is studying in Salamanca. I love to play volleyball and am a major foodie.

2023 Spring
Home University:
Villanova University
Biological Chemistry
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