One of the best parts of studying abroad was meeting so many international people. I met a rainbow of people and explored not only my town (Murcia, Spain), but all over Spain. The local Spanish people I met opened their world up to me. They taught me their language, presented their favorite foods, and explained their culture, history, traditions, and beliefs. They showed me the beauty of their country and helped me acclimate to their environment. I was able to tutor children, learn at the university, play soccer with the locals, experience the culture, and explore the land. I was able to do more than I imagined. While I could have done it all on my own, it would have been much harder and less meaningful without the context and facilitation of the friends I made.
The most attractive part is commonly the adventure of the experience. While visiting multiple countries is intriguing, I highly encourage spending time traveling within the country you visit. I found amazing hikes, wineries, historic cities, palaces, festivals, and more by connecting with the locals and exploring their favorite parts.
An interesting aspect of studying abroad is that you see the world’s problems in a different light. I became immersed in another lifestyle, political system, and economy. The comical phrase “first world problems” is quickly understood. Not every country has the same conveniences we have, making the lifestyle more interesting to adapt to. Also, while I was in Spain, I was in the midst of their economic crisis. I experienced strikes, protests, and sat next to people as they broke down in tears of despair over the uncertainty of their future. I experienced their political struggles and more. I’m not saying this to discourage people from traveling to Spain, in fact I found this a blessing. Living in Spain gifted me with a more worldly perspective and understanding of different lifestyles, economies, and problems that are out there in the world. It’s hard to truly understand the issues going on in the world until you live there and see it for yourself.
The most valuable aspect of the trip was the perspective and understanding I gained. I got to live another life. I walked in the shoes of another culture, and saw the world from another view. I was able to learn what is truly important :
-Nothing is more meaningful than your support network of friends and family;
-Nothing is more precious than the earth’s natural beauty;
-Nothing is more positively impactful than the ability to harmonize, understand, and work together.
While everyone takes away something different, I hope my takeaways have inspired some to embark on their own adventure and broaden their perspectives. Safe travels my fellow adventurers. Stay young.