“The experiences you have while studying abroad are something that you cannot learn from a Berkeley classroom. It might be scary to travel somewhere on your own and leave your life here for an extended period of time, but it is beyond worth it. If you are considering a summer abroad, do it!”
I had always loved to travel, and after traveling to Nicaragua for a summer through a high school program, realized there was something special about immersing oneself in another culture and learning there. I particularly decided to study abroad for the summer in Madrid as I believed it would be a wonderful opportunity to cultivate strong Spanish speaking skills that would be relevant to my desire to pursue a career in immigration law.
For the final excursion of our program, our professor took us all to a paella dinner and a Flamenco show. It was amazing to see this dance really come to life and the entire time I couldn't help but be in awe of the many generations of dancers who had expressed themselves through this medium. In this moment, I felt truly immersed in the Spanish culture.
I did not know anyone going into my program, and I remember feeling very nervous that I wouldn't fit in with anyone. However, within a few days, it seemed like everyone was friends. I put myself out there, and as a product have gained a multitude of lasting friendships.
Breakfast, class, lunch, siesta, some homework/explore the city of Madrid, then dinner at around 9 or 10, and afterwards everyone would usually go out together- whether it be to a salsa club or the park.
I took Spanish 3, and though it was relatively challenging it was manageable and relevant to experiencing the Spanish culture.
The people! Everyone in my group was so friendly, and we all got along really well. We recently had a reunion at our professors, and almost everyone showed up, even those who had already graduated.
I look forward to taking a semester abroad, this time potentially in Paris. I am now considering TEFL and living in Spain after I graduate.
The experiences you have while studying abroad are something that you cannot learn from a Berkeley classroom. It might be scary to travel somewhere on your own and leave your life here for an extended period of time, but it is beyond worth it. If you are considering a summer abroad, do it!