By Alexa Kelber
As a senior at the College, I feel it to be an obligation and a right of passage to divulge the most important piece of advice that I have learned throughout my collegiate career: study abroad.
While there’s definitely a long list of do’s and don’ts that I could provide you with — do move into an off-campus house with your seven best friends, don’t let it be next to a deranged ex-convict — the most important thing you should do is expose yourself to a different country and completely let yourself go. Let your guard down and expand your boundaries.
This past summer, I set off for a Maymester that allotted me three weeks to immerse myself in all that is Spain. My program took us all over the country, hitting cities like Granada, Segovia, Seville and, of course, Madrid and Barcelona. I unintentionally discovered things about myself that I would not have known if it were not for this experience.
I went into this knowing no one and came out valuing the genuine friendships that were formed over figuring out how to order tapas (Spain’s signature small dishes that come with a complimentary drink) at a tapas bar, splitting a 10 euro taxi to Domino’s that we didn’t know how to order from the hotel and navigating the bustling streets and daunting Metro in Barcelona.
Furthermore, I learned that I will never subject myself to a museum ever again and that, when I order a jamón (ham) sandwich, the meat comes directly off one of the raw carcass that would undoubtedly be swinging somewhere overhead on display in the restaurant.
I affirmed that I crave new experiences because I find them to be a better teacher than a formal education. The ability to shed the comforts of American life in order to appreciate an alien world, fosters the growth of the soul in a way that would never be understood unless personally experienced.
There is absolutely nothing like overlooking the city of Toledo after a midnight rain storm and actually grasping the fact that you are looking at the stars from an entirely different vantage point than what you are used to. It offers perspective into the grand scheme of things — we are so very small. We are a blip in time, a fraction of a second considering the time frame of the universe.
Spain gave me the opportunity to grow up, broaden my frame of reference and get to know myself. This trip came at a pivotal time in my life. I am in my transition into the real world and it’s comforting to know that I’m ready for whatever the future may bring. More importantly, I learned that there is absolutely no time like the present.
Let yourself feel, experience the world and say yes to everything. This is a time where you are gifted with the most freedom you’ve ever had, while simultaneously having the least amount of responsibility — you have no choice but to take full, unapologetic advantage of it.
Students share opinions around campus
“(Study abroad) gives a good understanding of education around the world. Aside from education, there’s a lot of culture you’d get to witness… art, music, religion and especially the food.”
“I honestly believe everyone should study abroad. It’s good to learn more cultures, especially if you want to work in another country.”