When I tell people at my school that I’m spending my summer in Barcelona, I usually get the same question: Why am I studying abroad in the summer, instead of for a full semester?
At my school, Colby College, studying abroad is incredibly popular – 2/3 of the junior class spends a semester or more out of the country each year. My canned response for why I’m not studying abroad for a semester is that the demands of my major (computer science) mean I can’t afford to miss classes at Colby. To be honest, that’s not entirely true. There are plenty of study abroad programs dedicated to computer science, including a Colby-sponsored program in Budapest. I could easily go abroad and still finish my major. My reasons for not wanting to leave are more sentimental than practical – I don’t want to miss the interesting classes, the community, and the traditions of a year at Colby. Also, I just don’t see the point in learning Hungarian. My sincerest apologies to any Hungarians reading this, I’m sure you have a very beautiful language. Fun fact: I only know one word in Hungarian, csákány, which means “pickaxe.” Of course, I wouldn’t ever use that word in case people thought I was threatening them. Anyway, since I still want to get some international experience, and I don’t want to go to Budapest, I figured studying abroad in the summer is perfect for me.
I decided to go to Barcelona because I’ve studied Spanish for six years (except I didn’t take any Spanish classes this year – oops!) and I’m ready to put my language skills to the test. My main goal for studying abroad is to improve my fluency, and hopefully being immersed in the language for six weeks will accomplish that. I also think Barcelona is a fascinating city. There’s a lot of culture and history there, both Catalan and Spanish, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it first-hand. Of course, there’s also the food, the architecture, and plenty more that I have yet to discover.
Obviously I haven’t arrived yet, so I can’t give any packing advice because I might still unpack and realize I forgot my toothbrush. Still, my unsolicited and untested pre-departure advice is this: pack only what you need, and remember you can always buy stuff when you get there; make sure you have things to entertain you in your carry-on, because the flight is probably pretty long and you don’t want to have to read SkyMall the entire time; and finally, bring an open mind and plenty of excitement. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do. I will let you know how my study abroad experience actually goes in future blog posts. Until then, ¡adiós!