When I landed in Norway I immediately felt the weather difference. It’s almost 50-60 degrees everyday, which is practically winter for Texas. I also noticed public bathrooms, transportation, and streets were a lot cleaner than they are in the U.S. After a few days, I quickly realized that Norway is extremely environmentally friendly and the societal norm is to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle that prioritizes family. It’s extremely rare to find a trash can in a public building that doesn’t make you separate your trash into plastic, paper, glass, and compost. Oslo is known for the majority of its people obtaining a hobby of running or biking, even the children are encouraged to run and bike with their families at a young age. On Sundays, practically everything is closed except for emergency services and churches, and people use this time to spend all day outside with their families before the cold and very dark winter approaches. The main difference I notice between Norway and the U.S is the government policies and the peoples perspective on equality. In Norway I’ve seen one homeless person and I’m living in the “Austin, Texas” of Norway. This is because the government allocates tax money differently, so those who are unemployed have shelter and a chance to get back on their feet once they’re employed. The government takes care of those in poverty. However, it’s not just the government, it’s the people too. The community is okay with using their tax money to support those who are seeking employment, assylum, or shelter. Equality in the U.S is giving every citizen an equal opportunity to go to school and make a living regardless of their family background or income. Equality in Norway is allocating more resources to those who are in greater need rather than those who are already well off, so the families with lower income are equally as successful as those who come from a wealthier background. Lastly, there’s no ego that comes with the hierarchy of power. The Prime Minister lives in a normal house, goes to the store down the street, and bikes with his family in the park like every other citizen. The professors prefer to be called by their first name, like you’re addressing a friend. Those in positions of power live in humility. The exchange students are all super outgoing and eager to make friends at my school, however the Norwegains are known to be themselves and only build deep friendships over extremely long periods of time. Regardless they’re still super nice, but being introverted is considered polite in this culture. Overall, the culture is so different yet so amazing and I can’t wait to see the way it shapes me as a person as I broaden my perspective this semester.

Categories: 2023, Norway

Since arriving in Brisbane, my already high expectations for the QUT exchange programs have been met and even exceeded through the great experiences I have had.

I arrived around a week before classes started, which gave me ample time to explore all of what Brisbane as a city has to offer! One thing that immediately stood out to me was how kind and friendly everyone was, which was a nice surprise for someone who appreciates the similar southern charm I experience back in College Station. One major difference to Texas culture, is that public transportation is far more commonly used, and owning a car is not anywhere near as necessary for traveling. I was able to easily navigate within Brisbane for a cheap price point through the city’s public transit (which had a student discount as well).

Understandably as a major city, Brisbane has incredible options when it comes to shopping and especially dining. As the capital of Queensland, known in Australia as the sunshine state, Brisbane weather does not disappoint. So far, their “winter” season has been overwhelmingly sunny. This complements the Aussie’s love of the outdoors and nature, as I have spent lots of time playing sports and lounging around some of Brisbane’s many excellent parks and gardens with my new friends.

Regarding QUT, I have had a great initial impressions of both the University and Business schools. QUT has a diverse student body with many Australian students and other international/exchange students. My professors have had insightful lectures so far, and have lots of personal experience in related fields of supply chain and international business. One major difference compared to Texas A&M is that typically lectures only happen once a week, with a tutorial session that follows soon after for application based practice. Additionally, there are no minor assignments such as quizzes and exit tickets, just major essays and/or exams.

Ultimately, I have really enjoyed my time in Brisbane and at QUT thus far. I am excited to see what the rest of the semester has to offer!

Categories: 2023, Australia

Hello, my name is Olivia Ho and I am a junior majoring in Accounting. I am currently studying abroad in Hong Kong at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for the Fall 2023 semester. As someone who has lived in the suburbs of Texas all her life, it was quite a shock when I arrived to see the huge skyscrapers and busy streets. There was so much going around me as soon as I stepped off the plane. The buses and taxis were zooming past each other on the road, merchants calling out to pedestrians to try their fruits, and delicious smells of curry fish balls wafting across the streets. It was a lot to take in. As I rode the bus to my dorms, I was amazed by the night city view of Hong Kong. I also felt a little overwhelmed, seeing a forest of skyscrapers and tall buildings loom over me as the bus drove past. Later on, I learned from a local friend I made that buildings expanded upwards in Hong Kong to conserve space. Space is limited in Hong Kong especially on the ground, so locals usually live in apartments with their families. Although food and transportation is cheaper, rental costs take up most of their expenses.

A few days into the semester, HKUST took us on a tour where I learned about the rural parts of Hong Kong. There are many temples in Hong Kong, and the religions of Buddhism and Taoism were prevalent there. Locals would go to the temples to pray, wishing for peace and prosperity for themselves and their families. The atmosphere at Chi Lin Nunnery was especially memorable, as there was a beautiful garden with Tang dynasty architecture next to the temple. The unique point of Tang dynasty architecture was that buildings were all built with wood, so not a single nail was in the frames of the buildings. Later, we went to Victoria Harbor, and saw the iconic skyline at the Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront. There were many people, locals and tourists, walking along the waterfront. Some also traveled on the Star Ferry, one of the oldest forms of transportation in Hong Kong, between the Kowloon peninsula and the shores of Hong Kong Island. Victoria Harbor is one of the busiest and most fast-paced places in Hong Kong.

I am thoroughly impressed with the campus and how it reflected HKUST’s mission for sustainability. The campus is located in the mountains, surrounded by the native lush forests of Hong Kong. It is also close to the oceans, located at the shores of Clear Water Bay. You can even see the hills and ships in the distance from the dorms windows. There are also gardens and green places around the campus for people to visit. In canteens, utensils like spoons and straws are made of paper and are biodegradable. They also don’t provide napkins in an effort to limit waste. The school focuses a lot on sustainability and how to maintain the oceans and biodiversity of Hong Kong.

The workload at HKUST is known to be intense among the locals, but I also feel it is because everyone is serious about their work. The professors are kind and helpful, wanting to help their students learn as much as possible. Discussions are facilitated in classes to help students think about the concepts we learned and how to apply them to the real world. I am excited to learn a lot this semester from my professors, and to work with my peers on different projects. Overall, I am excited about my classes this semester and cannot wait to see what else is in store during my stay in Hong Kong!

Categories: 2023, Hong Kong

When I first entered the city of Madrid I was overwhelmed about being in a new place and already a bit homesick because I’ve never been this far away from my family. But as the first few days went by and I moved into my new apartment and got my metro card, I started to realize how beautiful the city, people, and the culture are. The architecture and style of every building stands out and even the roads are different than the US. There is so much diversity here that it’s almost impossible to guess if someone is a local or a tourist just by looking at them. I live in an apartment with 11 other roommates, all of whom are from different countries with different lifestyles. One of the main differences I noticed very soon was that many European college students are required to do a semester or a year abroad which is why it’s so common to have student housing for international people. I think this requirement makes the people here much more well rounded and worldly; it forces a person to live life through a different lens which is so important.

I started my first week of school a few days ago and I’m already loving it. The diversity is so present that most of my business classes have only one or two Spanish students even though I am at a Spanish school. Even the professors are from different countries such as Italy, Ukraine, and Germany.

As I start this experience, a few goals I have set for myself are the following: (1) Learn as much as possible about business from an apartment international standpoint so I can understand what could be brought to the US to make businesses more successful (2) Make as many connection of students from all over the world so I can learn about their cultures and lifestyles (3) Travel as much as possible! I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.

Categories: 2023, Spain

Howdy! Bonjour!

My name is Shelby Leenhouts and I’m a senior majoring in marketing at Texas A&M University. This semester, I have the amazing opportunity to do my studies in Strasbourg, France at EM Strasbourg. I have been in Strasbourg for just under two weeks now and I’d like to share my initial impressions of the city and the university as well as the cultural differences that I’ve noticed so far.

Initial Impressions
Arriving in Strasbourg, you immediately feel as if you are in a fairytale. The architecture here is straight out of a storybook, with a charming European vibe that is so very beautiful. The buildings have a very noticeable German influence, which makes sense as Strasbourg is right near France’s border with Germany. In fact, you can take the tram right across the border. Or you can use the famous pedestrian bridge to cross the Rhine River. The city’s streets are paved with cobblestones, and there are plazas around town where you can see different markets and local shops selling cheese, wine, and bread. I’m still in awe that I get to be here for a full semester and call this city my home.

At the heart of the city is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg and it is one of the most impressive and picturesque buildings I have ever seen. The cathedral has been a meeting place for several events so far, so I’ve had the opportunity to see it up close and from the inside. The cathedral’s gothic architecture really gives you really a glimpse into the history of this city. One of the first things I did after arriving here was a boat tour along Strasbourg’s canals, giving me a unique perspective of the city and an overview of its culture. EM Strasbourg has done an amazing job at welcoming the exchange students. They have put on a full week of orientation meetings and fun activities that have not only helped me meet people from all over the world, but also get to know the city better. From the welcome ceremony at the European Parliament, to a city-wide scavenger hunt, and even a cheese tasting at the school, I have felt not just welcome but fully embraced by EM Strasbourg. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester holds!

Cultural Differences
During my time here so far, I have noticed differences between French culture and what I’m used to in the United States. For example, most restaurants charge for water, which is not something I am used to. Also, many restaurants here include the tip in the price. I have been pleased to find that many of the restaurants here have vegetarian-friendly options, which I don’t see as much in College Station. Another big difference I’ve found is that air conditioning is pretty rare here. While it isn’t as hot as Texas right now, the weather here in late August/early September is warm (80-90° Fahrenheit during the day), and can be overwhelming with the lack of widespread AC.  I was surprised to find that most stores and restaurants are closed on Sundays here. This is important to note if you are planning to visit, because it is a good idea to have some food options stored up for Sundays. As for transportation, the primary ways of getting around are the tram system, buses, walking, and biking. I was intimidated when I heard that I would probably be taking the tram to and from school every day, however, it has been a pleasant surprise that they have such a great network of trams. The trams are clean, above ground, and I feel very safe on them. It might be obvious, but everyone here speaks to you in French. While I had several years of French in high school, I am now realizing how beneficial it would have been to review more in depth before arriving. My initial apartment tour was conducted exclusively in French, which was a challenge, but it just goes to show how immersed I will be in the language. I am genuinely looking forward to improving my French over the next 4 months.

Fashion-wise, people dress quite different here as well. At Texas A&M, it is common to wear athleisure clothes to school and around College Station. That is not the case in Strasbourg. Here, many people are dressed nicely, often wearing dresses, jeans, or trousers instead of shorts and leggings. Lastly, EM Strasbourg is also quite different than Texas A&M. Class schedules vary, with classes at different times and locations each week. While my classes haven’t yet begun, I am interested to see if I will like the variety in the schedule. The classes here typically meet once a week with 3-4 hours sessions. Attendance and participation are highly prioritized, and the grading scheme is completely different than what I am used to at Texas A&M. I am excited for my classes to start and I’m sure I’ll find even more differences between EM Strasbourg and Texas A&M.

In conclusion, my journey in Strasbourg has just begun. I am eagerly looking forward to this exciting chapter of my life and I know this experience will help me grow so much.

Categories: 2023, France

I’m writing this on September 9th, 2023. It’s been just over one week since I got to Madrid, Spain. I am a Junior marketing major and I have always wanted to study abroad. Starting from the day I got here, I was in shock at how picturesque Madrid is. The cobblestone streets and the buildings are all incredibly beautiful. I came abroad with a few friends from TAMU, so we’re all staying together in this 12 bedroom apartment in Sol (the heart of the city). It’s actually really fun staying with a lot of people because there are students coming in from all over Europe. It’s been a great way to make friends and learn about other cultures.

The first week that I was here, I got to do a lot of walking around the city and learning my way around. It’s pretty clean and safe in the main part of the city as well. There is a really pretty park similar to central park in NYC near the city that has a really pretty glass castle. There’s lots of places to sightsee that I plan on doing. This street called Gran Via has all the stores you can imagine if you like to shop and the gelato here is so good. I’m going to UC3M and I just started my first day of classes yesterday. My schedule is pretty good and I was able to get Friday off, so that I’m able to travel while I’m here on the weekends. Being here really allows me to immerse myself into the culture of Spain as well as other cultures since it’s very diverse. I’m meeting people from all over the world and experiencing things I never thought I would be able to. Being in Madrid has been very different because I’ve never lived in a big city before and there are a lot of customs that are different here. For instance, many places shut down during the afternoon because of “siesta” meaning nap. Also, there’s a lot more cultural aspects in Spain compared to living in College Station. Overall, it’s been great so far and I would recommend studying abroad!


Categories: 2023, Spain

First impressions of Barcelona. I fell in love as soon as I landed. This was my first time in Europe, I did not know what to expect. The school system was quite different, there was weekly seminars for mostly every class, but it was fun being able to see how the students in Spain interact with each other. Plus, there was many international students, so it was so much fun meeting people from all over the world (not just Spain). The city was amazing, always felt very safe and never had a dull moment. I would go back forever, the lifestyle there is just so relaxing and fun. The food is quite different, but you will see your McDonalds and Taco Bells pretty often.

By the end of the trip, I did not want to leave this amazing experience. I learned so much about everything. I learned about myself, so many different cultures and how business works in other countries. This is something everyone should experience, do not let fear of being far away and in the unknown stop you! It’s a lot much easier to communicate than you might think, you are not the only international student in Barcelona (there is so many events for exchange students), the city is so beautiful!

Categories: 2023, Spain

Greetings from Strasbourg!

What a semester it has been! Over the past five months, I have visited thirty-two cities in thirteen countries; filled a scrapbook and a half with anecdotes, papers, and postcards; made countless memories with friends from all over the world; had innumerable blunders and mistakes that made me stronger and maybe even a little wise; and, most significantly, had the time of my life. I mentioned this in my other post, but this was an unbelievable opportunity that changed my life, and I feel so, so indescribably blessed and grateful for this chance to see and learn about the world around me.

The significant takeaway from this experience was the sheer extent to I grew and learned. I grew so much! I made so many mistakes—countless missed trains, embarrassing situations, encounters where I didn’t have the slightest clue what to do. Flights or trains were sometimes even cancelled! I once got heckled by a group of French teenagers for my cheese of choice! But the world didn’t end and now I’m better equipped for future experiences! By facing them head on, I am more equipped for the wilder aspects of adulthood that aren’t included in any guidebook. The sheer life experience was invaluable, and the resilience I had to develop is something I’ll carry with me all my adult life.

Furthermore, going abroad means I know I can live in a new city all on my own. I know I can manage my money to have incredible life experiences, I know I can thrive even in deeply new and scary environments. I can do anything now! My confidence has increased tenfold!

By seeing so much of the world, it is also much smaller and more human than it was before I left. I now have trip planning in the bag, but more importantly, I know myself better. In having so many experiences, I’ve refined what I value and prioritize when exploring the world around me. I knew I liked art and history museums, but I didn’t know how much I loved hiking until I visited the rolling valleys outside Dublin. Having the chance to dive head-first into the activities, natural beauty, and cities that this big, vibrant world has to offer was life-changing. Going abroad has provided me with a global, well-traveled perspective that amplified my empathy, fearlessness, and confidence.

Now, with all the places I’ve visited and loved, Strasbourg was still the main one I would live in again, if given the chance. Why do I love Strasbourg specifically? Man. Let me count the ways…

When asked about my favorite part of living in Strasbourg, the first thing that immediately comes to mind is its size and public transport. The first bullet point in my outline for this post, even, read “TRAM!!!! TRAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!” Living in a centralized, population-dense environment completely transformed my view of what is possible with urban infrastructure, and the ways people can live. I didn’t drive once in those five months. The closest grocery store was but a seven-minute walk from my dorm’s door. The tram took me to the train station, or into town, or to my friends’ apartments; the bus took me directly to class, cutting my commute time in half and improving my chronic tardiness drastically. Also, the tram was gorgeous. It was so beautiful. The windows were huge, it was above ground, and each car was so sleek and pristine. I’ve visited DC metros, NYC subways, Chicago’s delightful elevated rail, London’s massive tube system—Strasbourg takes the cake in terms of my favorite tram systems. Amsterdam was a close second.

Even without the tram and bus, town and class were all still walkable. When the weather was sunny or gorgeous, I spent so much time outside! Walking to events or appointments with friends, updating my scrapbook on a bench on the university campus, anything! And my window was always, always open. My phone tracked my exercise trends, and this whole summer I’ve gotten notifications about “We’ve noticed changes in your walking/staircases/distance trends.” Ouch! Where I once averaged 8-15,000 steps a day, moving back to a car-centric infrastructure in a blisteringly-hot state easily more than halved that.

Exploring the walkability, ease of exercise, and accessible public transport of Strasbourg completely changed my life for the better. Now, I’m considering walkable US cities to live in after graduation, and I owe this exciting new challenge to living in Strasbourg for a spring!

Strasbourg was an ideal city to live in not just for its public transport, which can be found in any number of European and even American cities, but its unique beauty and characteristics. Architecturally, Strasbourg brilliantly marries a rich history of French and German influence with all the modern conveniences of shopping malls, adorable coffee shops, and top-notch public transport. (Have I mentioned the public transport? Not sure if I mentioned the public transport. Really, it was wonderful.) Strasbourg is small enough to be quiet and peaceful, to have centuries of history all around you, and it’s big enough for liveliness, a state-of-the-art tram system, and for the accounting firm I worked at this summer to have an office. It was perfect for me. The opera and theatre show touring performances, and the smattering of museums are free for students. At a short train ride from Paris, the world’s cultural capitol is right at your fingertips, and being right on the French-German border, many major German destinations are at your door.

Strasbourg is a fifty-minute train and two-hour bus ride to Basel, Switzerland, which has a tri-country airport near France, Germany, and Switzerland that cheaply takes travelers to many, many European destinations. Strasbourg’s location and size could not have been more perfect for my specific needs as a student who wanted to make the most of their time abroad. Strasbourg is also a real university city, so student life is active and fun. That said, one of the characteristics of Strasbourg that I loved the most was its diversity of population. Little kids, elderly women going for groceries, students like us, families, young working people, all took the tram together, or soaked up the April sun in the center of town together. It was a city where everyone could find their place and cohabitate in peace and harmony.

Before I left and in my previous blog post, I was apprehensive about the weather. And it was indeed a uniquely cold winter—December temperatures dropped to the teens in Fahrenheit, and the sunny Spring days where flowers bloomed and made the whole city glow didn’t visit me until late April. I was still wearing a light jacket walking along the early May mornings. So, my apprehensions were correct; the weather was very different from TAMU. But it was all completely manageable. In my mind, I was expecting a winter of midwestern proportions—biting, miserable wind, snow collecting on your eyelashes, slipping on the ice. There was nothing of the sort. It was very similar to the two weeks of winter College Station experiences, just for five months out of the year instead: grey days wrapped up in a jacket, sweater, and boots, but no precipitation. In fact, the parts of France I visited and lived in didn’t experience a real Texas rainstorm till the day I boarded the flight to leave; snow wasn’t a real concern.

I was also nervous about socializing, but I met so many wonderful people. I now have friends—or, at the very least, fondly-remembered acquaintances—from Portugal, Turkey, Spain, Canada, Australia, Germany, France, California, Indiana—so many! The wonderful memories of all the people I met and built community with are indescribable. Plus, the meals and laughter and class lectures I’ve shared with the four other Aggies have dashed that fear. I am so grateful I got to know these friends and share five months alongside them; I could not have asked for a better group of people with whom to embark on this scary journey together.

I already cannot wait to visit Strasbourg again, and will cherish these months as fond, treasured memories. I could not more strongly recommend embarking on a semester exchange. If you are on the fence, consider what apprehensions you hold, and what the worst thing that could possibly happen would be. This approach helped me take the plunge and dive feet-first into what will surely be a highlight of my time in college.

With warmth and well wishes,



Categories: 2023, France

Salut from Strasbourg!

Strasbourg, for those unaware just like I was, is a city in the Bas-Rhin sector of France located right along France’s eastern border with Germany. Looking at the pictures from previous students with CIBS, it is evident how gee-yorgeous Strasbourg’s city streets are. The Germanic, wooden houses lining cobbled streets is just as breathtaking in person as it is in pictures. The towering cathedral is simply stunning, and so, so much bigger in person. For four euros, you can climb winding, centuries-old stairs up to the top and look over the whole city!

I flew out December 31st for a January 9th semester start date; for my first week, I got familiar with the city. I got lunch from the local kebab shop and dangled my feet over the river as I let the sun warm my cheeks. I made unwise purchases from the trendy secondhand store (90 euros for a faux leather jacket…do not do this, friends). It was a perfect way to start my time in Strasbourg.

I admire France’s approach to groceries and food. I loveeee that baguettes are 65 cents, and everywhere, and delicious. Fluffy on the inside and crunchy and crackly on the outside…they are just like that scene in Ratatouille: “How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the looks, but the sound of the crust.” Indeed!

Furthermore, life passes at a slower pace in France. The days stretch out, long and savored. I take my time choosing apples for breakfast. I am very silent; having little to no French language training, I master bonjour, s’il vous plait, and merci beaucoup quickly. I am very intentional at either using French or saying nothing at all—I do not want to be an entitled American asking locals to bend to my will and language when I’m the one visiting their home. However, this would be better if I had any French training. So I spend a lot of time silent, haha. This silence, so far, has been received without issue. It appears strangers are more reserved with one another than in the States, where I more readily spark conversation with passersby. Aside from other students or youths in my age group, with whom it is okay to be more casual, I wouldn’t say I feel comfortable complimenting the shopkeeper’s shoes, for example. Additionally, politeness and respect are heavily emphasized in French culture. I thought my manners were polished enough being from the South, but it is imperative, I am discovering, to use madam, monsieur, s’il vous plait, merci beaucoup, and bonjour with every interaction.

EM Strasbourg—short for Ecole de Management—is but one building! The nearby Universite de Strasbourg has a small campus with perhaps a dozen buildings, but this is not the case for the business school. It is an airy, breezy building with four stories, I believe—one ground floor, then three higher floors. (Oh, that’s another thing I’m getting used to—the ground floor is usually referred to as 0 instead of 1, with 1 being the first floor up instead of being the first floor of the building.) My professors are amicable and accented, but I’m just grateful for the English instruction. They are all very good at what they do. Sections are small; it feels much like high school, or how things are at my brother’s liberal arts college. I am taking the equivalents of FINC 341 and SCMT 364, here, as well as the very beginners’ French course and a class on the economy of the European Union—a field I am wholly unfamiliar with, so I am very excited to learn more. I can’t tell, but I think my professor for that class works or worked as a lawyer for the European Union? That is amazing! Makes one wonder what he’s doing teaching a bunch of undergrads.

Strasbourg is much bigger and livelier than I expected. I was expecting a very quiet, maybe provincial place, and was almost concerned about not having enough to do. But within my first two weeks, I’ve already visited a lively independent comics store, multiple secondhand shops, and attended a Pub Crawl hosted by my university’s International Students organization. I’ve hung out with the four other Aggies here with me—I sense that the five of us will become close :). Furthermore, I’ve come to realize that Strasbourg is the perfect size, actually! Small enough that getting anywhere is easy as pie and the streets are so peaceful at night, but big enough to have its own transport system and active nightlife. I love it here already. I feel so blessed to spend the next five months here!

Some considerations are still being made, however. Strasbourg is certainly different from College Station. First, I’m unsure about the cold. Living in Texas all my life has not prepared me well for suns that set at 4 pm—er, 16:00, most places use 24-hour time, here—and temperatures in the thirties—gah, sorry, 0-4 degrees. I really emphasized cold-weather clothes when I packed, so have wool sweaters, thermal undershirts and leggings, and cozy, durable socks for every day, plus a scarf, gloves, and huge Costco puffer jacket that my Canadian auntie also uses, but what if it’s not enough! Will keep everyone updated.

I’m also a little concerned about making friends. I’ve discovered that it takes me, like, three actual months before I feel comfortable with a group. I’m comfortable traveling solo, but it would be nice to have people to share destinations and memories with.

Finally, I’m not looking forward to the three-hour lectures! Whew! Sometimes I’m struggling in the seventy-five-minute sections here at Aggieland! Three hours? Three hours! Three! Three of them! Boy! I only have one class a day here, which is thrilling—on Wednesdays I don’t have class at all! Incredible!—but those classes are three hours long! Whew. Whew. Will keep you updated on this as well.

Till we see each other again,


Categories: 2023, France

Coming back to the U.S. from the most incredible experience of my life has been bittersweet. On the one hand, I missed my family and friends a ton while I was away, and am so happy to have them so close, as opposed to being time zones and an ocean apart. On the other, I think about how just a few weeks ago I was living, what felt like, a whole different life… speaking Spanish everyday and traveling somewhere new just about every weekend. I saw and experienced some pretty amazing things, like paragliding through the sky above Interlaken, Switzerland or hiking several miles in between all 5 towns that make up Cinque Terre, Italy. But still, when I find myself being asked by people I haven’t seen in months, “what was your favorite part?,” I can’t help but immediately think of the friendships. Mariana and Anna were pretty much strangers to me in the fall of 2022. We all were marketing students at Mays Business School, but it wasn’t until signing up for this semester abroad, that we met. We were all set to go to Madrid, Spain and looking for roommates and a place to live.

We met for coffee at Sweet Eugene’s and decided right then and there that we would do this together! From that day on, I prayed for the 3 of us; that our friendship would be a blessing to us all. Over the course of our 5 months abroad, we practically lived on top of each other in a pretty little apartment located in the heart of the city, navigated foreign countries, language barriers, transportation, school, and our real, personal lives back in the U.S., and we became each others home away from home. It really didn’t take long for these ‘strangers’ to become some of my best friends. We laughed and cried and grew together. They were by far the best thing that happened to me while I was abroad and I know they will stick by my side for a long, long time, even now that we’re back home. I am forever changed for the better by my time abroad, but more so by the friendships that came with it.

Categories: 2023, Spain