As I am entering the last few weeks of my semester abroad, I’m noticing a pattern.
There seem to be two types of people on my study abroad program: those who traveled nearly every weekend, and those who spent most weekends exploring our host city.
I fall in the latter category.
When preparing to go abroad, I had alumni tell me that if I decided to stay in Barcelona for the majority of my weekends, it would be a waste of my experience. However, I really wanted to take the time to truly experience what Barcelona had to offer. This was the one time in my life that I would get to be in a new place for an extended period of time. I thought that it was an important part of my semester abroad to have a deep understanding of my host city. I was very fortunate to be able to visit London and Rome, two places on my bucket list, but most of my weekends have been spent exploring the area in and around the city.
It’s interesting how people’s experiences can be different. I have heard many of my peers say that they wished that they had done more in Barcelona. For me, some of my favorite experiences have been afternoons just wandering through the Gothic Quarter, sitting on the beach while enjoying the sun, and having a picnic in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The truth is that there is no right or wrong way to spend your time abroad. You should do what feels right for you.
One of the reasons why I chose to study abroad with AIFS is that they strive to provide learning opportunities beyond the classroom and build a holistic view of the city and culture in which you study abroad. They have provided activities nearly every weekend that have allowed me to visit almost all of Catalonia, and scheduled tours and experiences that provided me with new insight into areas of Barcelona where I may not otherwise have been able to go.
Whether you decide to travel to a new country or city every weekend or meander through your host city, there’s truly no wrong way to spend your downtime during your overseas experience. I’m glad I spent the majority of my time in Barcelona and I do not regret it for one second.
This post was contributed by Katie Simpson, a student from Drake University who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Barcelona, Spain.