When I stepped off the plane in Barcelona, Spain, I had no idea that I was embarking on the greatest adventure of my life. I was filled with nerves, excitement, fear, and every emotion in between! Looking back, I can vividly see that the girl stepping off of the plane in El Prat airport transformed into an exuberant, independent woman who boarded the plane four months later to return home.
I grew up in Barcelona. Not just in the sense of cooking for myself, traveling to twelve different counties on my own, or living the life I’d always dreamed of. My morals, beliefs, and view of the world changed — for the better. I was exposed to so much, both beautiful and ugly. I saw with my own eyes how cruel the world is to some and how different life is outside of my tiny town in Illinois. I had some of the best days of my life, but also some of the worst. My political views changed immensely abroad by seeing the ways that others view America in combination with experiencing how the American government affects other nations.
My learning style changed, as classes are different abroad. A history class overseas is no longer a boring lecture in a classroom like it is at home, but rather a walking tour of the streets that housed world-changing and ancient events. Art classes were no longer consisting of just drawing on a paper, but rather spray-painting graffiti on the streets of Barcelona. Business classes were no longer a session of note-taking, but rather open discussions with teachers who have traveled to all of the places they speak about.
I fell in love with learning in Barcelona: learning about myself, learning about other cultures and groups of people, and learning about the world around me.
I learned inside classrooms, but also outside. I learned from hiking mountains, getting lost in medieval cities and wandering for hours, conversing with people who don’t speak the same language as I do, missing flights, meeting new friends, and so much more.
People say that studying abroad changes them. I didn’t understand, but now I do. I have gotten the travel bug, crave adventure, yearn to learn about other cultures, and want to continue traveling. Dancing around La Sagrada Familia, skipping rocks over the Mediterranean, and exploring parts of the old world will change a person. Getting the opportunity to reflect on and understand my own growth is a blessing. My next adventure is on the horizon and I cannot wait to see where this beautiful world takes me next.