Now that I have had a bit of time to reflect on my entire study abroad experience in Barcelona, I can only feel grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to immerse myself in an entirely different culture for such a considerable period of time. My Spanish, for one, has improved tremendously, starting from feeling nervous to make a phone call to the local pizzeria, to being able to travel freely within Spain without worry-free of the locals’ knowledge of English. The University we studied at taught the courses at a comparable level to the Northwestern Spanish Department, and I felt challenged to become a better Spanish speaker each day.
My entire outlook on travel, and living abroad has changed completely. Traveling to Spain, I imagined this fanciful where everything went according to stereotypes, and what was shown in Spanish culture classes, but as in every country, people live exactly as we do. The Spanish daily schedule is about the same as the schedule we follow in the US.
There are still small social differences I saw in Spain that I think I would benefit greatly from bringing back home:
- Appreciate family and friend time.
- Use outdoor seating when, and where, possible.
- Start with a light breakfast in the morning, and snack throughout the day.
- Only use formal language when appropriate.
- Sing out loud, and dance everywhere.
All of these actions lead the Spanish to enjoy their daily lives, and my observation of this joy has turned out to be my biggest takeaway from my study abroad experience. In Spain, there are incredible marvels, but the little, everyday things are why I consider this once in a lifetime opportunity so remarkable.