Mays Business School, January 31st, 2020
December 31st, 2019. Queue my arrival to Barcelona, Spain.
Throughout January of 2020, I have experienced the invigorating life of a short-term Spanish local. Catalonia embodies a trilingual society where people chat in Catalán, Spanish, and English – all in the same conversation. Barcelona is a city that offers a multi-faceted lifestyle. It possesses a charming city center surrounding Plaza Catalunya enlaced by the genius of architect Gaudí, a refreshing beachside with incredible seafood paella and mussels, a peaceful Montserrat Mountain enriched by its religious significance and delicious wineries, and an electrifying nightlife of comedy, jazz, and outlandish 6am closing times. Through exchange student activities and an unmatched “Welcome Week” hosted by the University of Pompeu Fabra, I gained companions from the UK, Italy, Canada, Germany, and infinitely more. Every “where are you from?” opened doors for enlightenment on cultures I truly knew nothing about. As an Economics student, classroom conversations bred my excitement for learning about international business, holding my keen attention because you never knew what perspective or strange question someone would provide.
Inspiringly, I tasted the joys of exploration through weekend visits to the Czech Republic, Italy, and Portugal. I admired the architectural diversity (Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance, etc.) of Prague, Czech Republic. I gasped in awe of the largest church in the world – St. Peter’s Basilica – in the Vatican City of Rome, Italy. I devoured francesinhas – glorious meat-cheese-and-bread concoctions – and Porto wine in Porto, Portugal. I shopped fantastically around the famous Duomo di Milano Cathedral in Milan, Italy. The rich diversity I was immersed in through hostel stays, historical tours, and bar chatter with locals and fellow travelers was overwhelmingly eye-opening. Each conversation was like liquid gold, dripping with unexpected commonalities and providing depth by unraveling our human experiences together. I realized for the first time how “American” I was, and how our cultures can influence everything from our food preferences to our friendliness. Yes, there were challenges. Missed flights, overnight airport stays, a flurry of unprecedented fines, confusion, and a lack of control everywhere you go. But my complaints paled in comparison to the reward of living a lifestyle that yielded constant discovery.
In short, I encourage you to do the things that scare you the most. In doing so, I promise that you’ll feel exhilarated, confident, and truly alive !!
Check out my YouTube channel here for more on my study abroad journey 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjn5JDzEro2ufbH_MEkA1Gg