Post Program: Heading back to Western

Exactly one month ago I arrived back to the states after living in Seville Spain for nine months. Looking back on my year abroad one of the biggest takeaways from my experience are the friendships I made with Americans and Spaniards. I have many fond memories exploring different countries with American classmates as well as having café con leche and laughing with Spanish language exchange friends. Another big take away is my advancement in Spanish speaking, I practiced weekly and improved much more than I could by only taking classes. My final big takeaways are independence and comfort traveling by myself. While abroad I took every opportunity I could to travel, sometimes with friends but if no one could come I still went by myself. I went alone on trips ranging from camping in the Sahara desert to white water rafting in Croatia and made wonderful friends along the way. Accomplishing this has given me more perspective and appreciation for all the wonderful places in the world and for everything an individual can achieve when they set a goal. If a student is interested in studying abroad I would recommend that they know what they want to get out of their experience before starting. Many students go abroad without direction and, because of it, only choose options that are comfortable such as hanging out with Americans or only speaking English but if a student knows that they want to make international friends and have new experiences they can actively look for those opportunities rather than passively choose what’s familiar. One thing I would change about my year was living with Americans, both semesters my roommates only spoke English so rather than having a full immersion I spoke English while at home. If I could change it I would have lived in a house with roommates who didn’t speak any English. After I graduate I want to live abroad again, I loved Spain and want to return to another Spanish speaking country to volunteer. To me my experience abroad has meant pushing my comfort zone and gaining confidence in my ability to achieve my goals. I have become a more independent person and am grateful for my experience and everything I’ve learned.

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