You are here


May 30, 2016

Home at last! I arrived back in New York almost two weeks ago, and in classic Roya fashion, I’ve been traveling ever since. This has given me at least 16 hours on long car rides, countless trains into NYC, and even some time on my bike to reflect on my past semester.

The first thing I can say with complete certainty is that study abroad as a whole experience is never perfect. When I arrived in Madrid, I came with the stories of past students in my head, students who claimed to have life-changing experiences and the best time of their lives abroad. Hey, maybe they did both, but I’m 100% sure they had some struggles and went through some ruts along the way.

My semester has definitely had its highs and lows. It’s always easier to talk about the highs; when given the opportunity and privilege to spend a whole semester in another country across the ocean, immersed in another language and culture, the positives always come up more often in order to avoid seeming ungrateful. But study abroad experiences all vary and are challenging.

Nobody told me that within the first four weeks of arriving, I would inevitably hit a complete rut where I’d feel somewhat alone, nervous about classes starting, and very, very far away from my friends and family. When describing this feeling later on to a study abroad advisor at Bowdoin, she was quick to reassure me that EVERYONE has this kind of experience with varying magnitude. Everyone hits a rut, and it doesn’t mean that your study abroad experience is going wrong in any way.

As time goes by, any negative memories I have of my semester will start to fade and I’ll only think of the positives. I am so grateful to have been placed with the most generous and loving host family who truly welcomed me into their family throughout the semester. My professors were always willing to chat, whether that was over hot chocolate or about my decision to write one of my final papers in Spanish instead of English. Most excitingly for me, I visited a total of eight countries over the semester, four of which I had never visited before. I’ve become a more seasoned traveler, totally comfortable traveling solo, and have even voluntarily visited museums on my own (this is big for someone who has always dragged her feet through art museums). 

Now, I’m back in the United States ready to start my next adventure this summer in D.C. As my blogging days are coming to a close, I’d like to thank my parents for supporting me this semester, Bowdoin Off-Campus Study for making this all happen, the IES Abroad Chicago and Madrid staff, y Marce y Josefina por sus bromas, amabilidad, y ayuda durante el semestre. Hasta luego, Madrid!

Madrid_Madrid_Familia_Roya Moussapour.jpg

Marce, Josefina, and I in their apartment on my last night in Madrid.

From Our Blogs

Sep 18 10:23am

Sliding Through History

by Paige

Over the past week, I had the oportunity to go on the World Heritage Tour. This field trip is put on by IES Abroad during the first week break. In this week we visted Hallstadt, Salzburg, Český Krumlov and Prague. There is so much to talk about and so many photos to share.

Learn more
Sep 18 9:01am

Intimacy, gender, and public space

by Maddy

Within my first hour of being in Morocco, I became attuned to the way that men dominate public space. Whether you’re walking through the medina or driving past the busy city center, women are conspicuously absent from sidewalks and doorways.

Learn more
Sep 18 8:15am

My First Week: in Reflection

by Connor

It always helps to process thoughts and ideas when you can take a second to reflect on what’s happened. Personally, taking some time to myself to process things helps keep things in order, and also gives me break from the busy day-to-day.

Learn more
Sep 17 1:50pm

Marching to the Beat of Social Justice: Thoughts on Global Citizenship from John Luke Hawkins

by IES Abroad

We chatted with John Luke Hawkins (IES Abroad Cape Town, Fall 2016 | Hope College) to hear more about how studying abroad spurred, what he described, as a “180 degree turn” in his life.

Learn more
Sep 16 11:42am

Time to Explore and Time to Return

by Joshua

After our first week of traveling with the European Union program, I am at a loss of where to begin in this blog.  It is quite difficult to reduce this full week of new sights, thoughts, and relationships into one blog post, but I will try my best.  

Learn more
Sep 16 6:23am

From Boot Camp to Bike Rides

by James

After a week of intensive Nantes orientation, we head to the idyllic île-Aux-Moines for a magical afternoon only Europe could provide!

Learn more