Faculty-led Education Abroad

From the second I stepped foot in Spain, I knew that these next few weeks would exceed my highest expectations and that my time here would be filled with experiences I would never forget. I arrived in Europe a week earlier than the rest of the group to do some solo traveling and get the chance to roam around the city. I met up with some friends that live here and got to explore some of Barcelona’s most well-known landmarks/attractions. Park Guell (designed by famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi) was definitely one of my favorite places to go so far and I spent over 4 hours strolling around the beautiful gardens, getting to see all of the intricate art and architecture as well. Since I played soccer for most of my life growing up, one of my other favorite visits was to Camp Nou, which is the home stadium of FC Barcelona.

The rest of the group arrived on Saturday, and since then it has been an even more amazing experience. Getting to meet everyone and travel the city with them has been a blast. Classes give us an early start to the day but have been teaching us a lot about how the EU operates (and how to use the metro during rush hour… haha)! Our afternoons are usually filled with a group activity in Barcelona and the evenings and weekends we have to ourselves to explore, get great food, or take a short trip where we can!

I have been looking forward to studying abroad in college for so long, so the fact that the time is finally here and I am typing this from a cute little café in Spain is surreal. But overall, during this trip, I hope to gain a more global mindset that I can utilize in my future career and that will help me find passions in doing something potentially with International Business!

Categories: Spain

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to study abroad and to especially build camaraderie with Aggies that continue to impress, inspire me & hold the Aggie spirit to be true.

In 5 weeks I was able to visit 8 countries and over 12 cities where each continued to open my eyes to all the opportunities the world has to offer. As a group, we had company visits to Mercedes & Decathlon and institutional visits to the Bank of International Settlements, European Central Bank, European Parliament, & European Commission. It was surreal and truly enriching to see all the places & institutions that I have studied in art history, world government & politics, western European government & politics, supply chain, & international management with my own eyes.

I learned how the economic sanctions of the European Union are effective because of how deeply intertwined finance and economics are with our daily lives. I also learned how important it is to take risks, get uncomfortable, and seek new perspectives. As well as that in the age of Globalization it is so important to learn at least one more language to grow and compete in the global market.

I went on countless adventures and made new friends, memories I’ll cherish for a lifetime. I got to check lots of things off my bucket list too! I even made a connection with a securities lawyer from Utah when I was at the beach in Monte Carlo! I have hundreds of pictures of the places I went and countless stories and I tried to buy postcards from every city I went to. I will most definitely return to Europe whether it be for work or play or both, I just hope I’ll be soon!

Studying abroad has been one of the best decisions of my life and is an invaluable experience that I will continue to learn and grow from for years to come. I am now even more inspired to continue to learn French as my third language, travel, take more risks, continue to pursue earning a Juris Doctorate (which means applying this fall!), & study abroad again in law school.

Categories: France

My first week in Spain has been a fascinating experience. Before this program, I had never been to Europe, so this whole week has been a very new adventure. Spain is a beautiful country with a rich culture and a different way of life, but in some ways, it’s just like America. I’ve seen people wearing Chicago Bulls shirts, drinking Coke, and most people can speak some English. Despite these similarities, it’s still very unique and different in everything from the architecture to the lifestyle. The best way I’ve found to describe Barcelona itself is compact. The stores, houses, streets, cars; everything is smaller than I’m used to in Texas. The city is very walkable, the stores are much smaller with less selection, and overall it’s just closer together. Everything can be reached quickly, either by foot or by public transportation. The subway and bus systems make getting around the maze-like blocks easy (with a little practice). The locals here live much simpler lives. They meet with friends for coffee at street side tables, stop at a small store on the way home for a few things, and then meet for tapas, or snacks, at small bars nearby at night. People seem to be in much less of a hurry here, they lack the constant hustle and bustle of American life. The culture values friendship and good times highly, something I’ve come to respect and enjoy. Of course, I’m not just here to explore the city. The business program I’m here with has been very engaging and has provided me with great information. Our local professor is teaching us all about the European Union, which is something I knew very little about before this program despite its global importance to the environment of business. I’m learning so much about both business and Spanish culture, and it’s only been a week! I’m looking forward to further exploring the city, learning more about international business, and seeing the amazing landmarks of Barcelona in the weeks to come!

Categories: Spain

Week 1 in Barcelona is officially under our belts! For the past seven days, I have been continually amazed at the beauty and vibrancy of the city. It is lively, warm, cultured, and fun! Our group is inviting: thirty Mays students all here to learn more about international business and the city, all led by the incredible Dr. Panina- a pro at this trip. Getting to know the other members of the group while exploring Barcelona together has been such a sweet treat already and we are all learning and growing together. A major draw-in to participate in this faculty-led program was certainly the expertise of Dr. Panina but also the possibility of traveling and learning alongside fellow Aggies: the common thread of Mays Business School, but also coming from different backgrounds and bringing different perspectives along. Some initial thoughts and first impressions of the trip thus far: the metro is much easier than anticipated, tapas are a must, my daily step count has doubled if not tripled already, and the best view of the sunset (which is abnormally late here) is from Montjuic. Our apartment is a 2-minute walk to La Sagrada Familia and the park there is a great place for phone calls, reflecting, and gelato. Our day trip to Montserrat was breathtaking—there were many instances where I paused mid-sentence because I was taken aback by the beauty and history that was in front of me. To see God’s glory and handiwork on full display in a place so far from home was both humbling and thrilling. In these next few weeks, I hope to embrace a broader perspective and worldview. To me, this means realizing there is more than one right way to go about something and taking a minute to consider someone else’s situation and ideals. I hope to challenge myself to soak in as much as I can while here, and to bring it all back with me upon return to the US.

Categories: Spain

Spain is amazing. I know I have only been here a week but it somehow simultaneously feels longer and shorter. So far, the sights have been beautiful and everyone on the trip has been so sweet. My roommates are amazing. I only knew one of them and had briefly met two more but we all get along so great which is all o could really ask for. We’ve had a couple of family meals which are very fun. I am adding a picture of me and three of the said roommates. 🙂 The days are long but I didn’t expect myself to actually line up with simple things like eating late. Also, there is so much walking which I kind of love. So environmentally conscious with all the public transport and everything but my feet do hurt a little. The program is fun and efficient. Our professors are both so great to talk with. I also do love the places we have gone so far. It’s so cool to see more of the city, even if just by myself. The views are amazing. I added a picture of one of the views from an optional hike. The hike was fun and maybe a bit difficult but was so so worth it. I definitely had so much fun and got to know the others that went a bit better–we even got ice cream after. Speaking of the views, we are right next to the Sagrada Familia which is so cool to see every day. I do love how the girls are all together but wish everyone could be in the same building or at least close. I am so excited to keep exploring and learning more about Spanish culture and even take a trip or two of my own on the weekends. It is my first time in Europe so I want to get as much out of it as possible while being respectful to all locals. I want to get a deeper understanding of the culture by living it kind of. I also like that it goes hand in hand with classes actually about Spain, like international business. All in all, I’m excited to see where this trip takes me and how I’m going to grow. I’m excited to learn more and have lots and lots of fun!

Categories: Spain

A week has come and gone for our Spain study abroad. As soon as we got into the city driving in from the airport, I realized how much of a city Barcelona is. Our first tour of the area almost felt like we were walking in New York, but everyone was speaking not only Spanish but so many other languages. Barcelona seems like a city that people all over the world are constantly traveling to and visiting, yet the things that visitors are coming to do don’t feel super touristy. The thing that has been most evident in living here is how much we walk. We take the metro and walk everywhere. Most days we get around 26,000 steps. One of the best things about the city is the architecture. We have gotten to visit some of the most famous buildings in Barcelona and they are truly breathtaking. We are staying right next to the Sagrada Familia, the church that has been being built for the past 140 years and they are not sure when they are going to be done with it. We get to walk by it and sit by it just looking and finding more details each time we see it. One of the things the tour guide told us that I would have never thought about was that the famous architect, Gaudi, was not loved in his time because people thought that his work was too crazy. The days are also pretty long, which I am not complaining about because we get to make the most of every day. We go to school at 9am and the sun doesn’t set until almost 10pm (22:00, if you will–military time for some reason is so hard). The business program so far has been an interesting experience. The professor has a completely different way of conducting her class than the professors do at A&M. The city is so lively and beautiful. Getting to explore and walk around has been so fun. Spain as a country has also been cool to navigate. There is so much to do and so much to see. I speak Spanish and getting to be able to practice here has been really exciting. I think it helps that I speak at least a little Spanish because I have noticed at some restaurants that the staff can get a little frustrated when customers don’t speak Spanish, or at least try. It has only been a week, but I think I have been able to see and learn so much already! I hope in the weeks to come I can learn more about Spanish culture and become more in tune with social cues; all in all, become more of a local, blending in with Barcelona.

Categories: Spain

Barcelona is an incredible city and I already feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to study and live here for the next few weeks. Few other situations and circumstances allow one to see the other side of the world and experience the culture like a study abroad trip. It is so interesting to see differences across regions including such examples as the prevalence of local cuisine, access to public transportation, and customary social interactions. It seems that wherever you look, the streets are lined with small shops and restaurants, which really promotes the integration of the culture as most businesses pertain to their geographical location. In America, eating out is almost exclusively at large chains that serve the same food across the country, yet in Barcelona, each meal feels special. Transportation seems to be much different than the States as public transportation is at every street corner and the whole city is linked by the metro that is running constantly. Compared to cities like that in Texas, it makes you consider how logistics could be improved in most areas when it comes to travel. The social climate is another big change as Europeans interact differently than Americans. They are less friendly to strangers, as can be seen by diverting eye contact on the street or a lack of greeting when passing. That is not to say that they are unkind, but rather point out different cultural customs and also acknowledge how I am a foreigner who does not understand all the ins and outs of what traditional life looks like within Barcelona. I am so excited about this whole experience and I really look forward to continuing to learn all about another culture and developing my Spanish-speaking skills. Not only is this an incredible time to see an absolutely beautiful part of the world, yet also get immersed within the culture and expand my worldview.

Categories: Spain

This first week in Barcelona has been a blur that has strangely brought a lot into focus for me. And I know that sentence is confusing and semantically useless, so I will be frank and admit that it was my hook and hopefully begin to explain what I mean by it now.

It has been a blur in the sense that an overwhelming quantity of things has taken place in such a short amount of time. We have already seen so much of the city and experienced so many incredible things, it is almost hard to believe that we can sustain the pace. I would guess that we won’t, and instead, the influx of excitement and novelty will recede into a deeper pleasure of common satisfaction with the familiarity of a beautifully rich city. In another sense, it has brought clarity and focus through experiences that enlighten. The things I have seen have given me months of material to reflect over. In the interest of codifying memories I will list some of the most notable of these things now:

The trip to the Port of Barcelona was quite possibly the most fascinating and eye-opening experience of my life to date. I remember one of my roommates making the comment that we were seeing behind the veil of “how the world works,” a simple sentiment that perfectly encapsulates its effect on me. Seeing the infrastructure needed to support civilization as we know it brought about a number of convicting realizations: we ought to be more thankful for what we have, we have based our whole modern economy on a very dangerous philosophy that breeds inequality, and I have no idea how boats are buoyant.

Other notable things about the city include the beautiful architecture, the seamless cooperation of historic landmarks and modern architecture, the interesting people on the metro, the delicious (cost-effective) sandwiches at Bella Pan, and, of course, Gaudi’s image begotten everywhere the eye can see.

I have two hopes for the weeks to follow: I want to better understand the philosophical and religious climate of Barcelona, and I want to learn to speak its native language more effectively. I am fascinated by what it is that gets people motivated in the mornings and what fundamental truths they base their lives on. And to be quite honest, the ego-centric fool that I am, I desire to see how aligned these beliefs are with my own, how I can learn from them, and what I may be able to pass along to the locals. In order to have these enriching experiences, I need to learn the language more proficiently than I have so far. I also plan on attending different churches on the weekends moving forward to dig deeper into people’s beliefs. I will update this blog with progress soon.

Categories: Spain

I visited Barcelona before the pandemic, but I was excited to visit once again since a lot of the group visits included places I was unable to visit previously. Since my last visit, it was interesting to see the changes in such a short amount of time. One of the changes was the amount of work done to the Sagrada Familia since my last visit. Although Covid-19 has caused the completion date to push back it was still interesting to see so much change. Another impressive change was how every transaction can be completed using Apple Pay. On the last visit, I made sure to have euros with me, but now all I need is my phone to purchase things.

Overall, the first week has been eventful with so many group trips along with the classes. The Port Authority visit was interesting as we were able to see one of Europe’s major ports in the Mediterranean. Another fun trip was to the Monserrat. The scenery was truly breathtaking and visiting the Monserrat Museum during our free time was well worth the time. Being able to see the artworks of Picasso and Dali was amazing as well as seeing the artwork of Catalan artists. I am excited to visit more places throughout this trip such as the trip to Parlement of Catalunya, Casa Milá, and Sagrada Familia.

In addition, I have other things I hope to gain from this study abroad program. I hope to improve my Spanish and learn a bit of Catalan while I am here and experience the Catalan culture as much as possible. Also from the classes, I hope to learn a lot more about European history and culture. In addition, I would like to discover career opportunities in Spain as I do want to move abroad after college, and knowing my options would make it easier for me to make decisions.

Categories: Spain

The beginning of my aborad journey has been nothing short of amazing. From the people, to the food, to the city, I have yet to be underwhelmed. At this point, I haven’t sat through too many lectures, but I can already tell I am going to learn a lot. Our Spanish professor is very well-spoken and has much real-world experience and it is very interesting to hear about history from a different perspective. The food here is what has really brightened my experience. I have been trying to try something new every day and have really enjoyed it. From the nicest restaurants to the small cafes, the food is spectacular. Beyond just the food though, the city, in general, is beautiful. The small details on every statue or monument are dazzling. One of the things we have already done that I really liked was the trip to Port Authority. The whole class was taken to the Port Authority where we got to hear a great presentation and then got taken on a tour through all of Port Barcelona, getting to hear all about its markets and future plans. I think that trip really put into perspective just how much work goes into producing the lives we live. We also had a class trip to Montserrat, which was very interesting. Luckily enough, we got to take a tour of the whole monastery and then had the privilege of attending mass. Even though my Spanish is not great it was still very cool to sit through and experience the service in that place. Another part of the trip I really enjoyed was the tour through the gothic quarter. The rich and beautiful history there was amazing to see in person. I am very excited for the rest of my trip and all of the company visits, lectures, and dinners yet to come!

Categories: Spain