"I found myself becoming more comfortable with my ability to handle situations outside my comfort zone. I also was able to develop much stronger relationships with the people in my program, many of whom I am still in contact with to this day."
After realizing studying abroad fulfills your international studies breadth, I knew I had to take advantage of this awesome opportunity! Plus, I have always dreamed of going to Madrid and studying the language and culture.
Probably going to The Prado Museum and seeing the paintings of Francisco Goya, an artist who I had studied in previous Spanish classes. Seeing his work in person was a surreal experience.
The most challenging part was adjusting to these initial feelings of stress and loneliness. Navigating a new country surrounded by people I had never met was definitely an unnerving experience. As the program progressed, however, I found myself becoming more comfortable with my ability to handle situations outside my comfort zone. I also was able to develop much stronger relationships with the people in my program, many of whom I am still in contact with to this day.
A schedule was given to each student prior to departure. Week days consisted of classes from 9am to 1pm, with 10 minute breaks every hour for cafecitas. (Side note: I had the absolute BEST teacher and my classes were some of the most interesting I've taken at Cal!). On Fridays, we took field trips to museums, parks, and other sites of cultural significance. Those days, class was taught outside by the professor or a tour guide! After class, we would have group study sessions at nearby coffee shops or the study lounge at our residency. At night, we would explore the area, heading out to discotecas (clubs) or restaurants. On the weekends, we would explore nearby cities in Spain and even travel to other countries!
I took Spanish N3 (Intermediate Spanish) and Spanish 16 (Cultura Contemporania) for a total of 6 units, with Spanish N3 being the bulk of my coursework. I absolutely loved professor, who kept us engaged in the material and excited to come to class every day. Although the courses are challenging, I mostly remember them being interesting and informative. Not only did my Spanish speaking skills improve tremendously, but I fell in love with the culture. Definitely not a burden like some Berkeley classes!
Just being immersed in a culture for that long was beyond amazing. I am forever grateful for the wonderful people I met, the amazing, unforgettable experiences, and meaningful lessons I learned along the way!
My study abroad experience ignited a desire to see the world and experience as much as I can. It challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and fall into each and every experience. I can honestly say I have no regrets studying abroad.
Don't wait till your last semester to study abroad because you never know what's gonna happen between now and then. Take advantage of this opportunity! Check out all the programs/ locations and choose carefully!
As a Global Studies and Media Studies major hoping to enter the nonprofit sector, study abroad has helped me gain a global perspective and inspired me to continue my passions with human rights and social welfare work.