Q: Initially, what made you decide to study abroad? Why did you choose your program?
A: I initially decided to study abroad because I had always wanted to travel and experience a country’s culture at a more intimate level. I chose to do the University of Barcelona program because I had previously spent less than two days in Barcelona, and since that experience I knew I needed to return for a longer period.
Q: What was the highlight of your study abroad experience?
A: My highlight of my study abroad experience was getting to interact with the locals and other foreigners from different parts of the world. All the interactions I had with other foreigners were always extremely interesting because we got to talk about our experiences traveling to live in a new country, however many of us had completely different backgrounds. I was living in Spain but I got to know people from Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Germany, Poland, and so many other countries. Living in Spain also gave me the opportunity to travel to many of it’s neighboring countries in Europe.
Q: How do you think COVID-19 uniquely impacted what you learned as a study abroad student?
A: COVID-19 unfortunately did have an impact while I studied abroad. During my finals week there was an outbreak in the psychology department, which I am a part of, so I had to take all of my final exams online and unfortunately did not have the chance to experience that in person. Moreover, I did not get the chance to say goodbye to many of my classmates.
Q: What was your greatest challenge abroad and how did you overcome it?
A: My greatest challenge was getting over some homesickness and stepping out of my comfort zone. This had been my first experience traveling completely alone and I went into the program without knowing anyone, which made me fearful and uncomfortable. However, over time I was able to over come those initial fears and challenges because I knew how amazing this opportunity was and luckily I was able to meet many great people. Homesickness was a challenge I knew I would have to face because I am very close to my family, however through the support of the many great friends I made, it became an issue that I easily overcame.
Q: How did your coursework abroad compare to your courses at UC Merced?
A: The coursework abroad compared to the courses at UC Merced are very different. The material and structure of the classes were very similar, however the amount of work and how we were graded was very different. At UC Merced most of my courses have weekly quizzes, homework assignments, essays, exams, and more that all get assigned and are part of your grade. At the University of Barcelona I had around 3 or 4 assignments total that I was being graded on, an essay, a presentation, and an exam. Abroad, I rarely received weekly homework assignments that would be graded and never had any quizzes.
Q: What did you gain from your study abroad experience?
A: I gained so much from my study abroad experience, from knowledge about traveling to knowing how the food tastes from different cultures. I gained many friends from different parts of the world and I also had my very first internship experience.
Q: What advice do you have for students considering study abroad?
A: If it’s possible for you and you’re considering it, I highly recommend studying abroad. Initially, it can be a scary experience taking that first step to apply and then even scarier when buying your flight ticket but in the end, it’s completely worth it. You gain many friendships from people you would never meet on a daily basis in California.
Q: Describe a typical day abroad.
A: A typical day for me in Barcelona is wake up and after getting ready for the day, I take the metro to the University which took around 15 to 30 minutes. At the University I went to the department of Sociology, where I lead two English conversation groups and then had one class. Afterwards, I take the metro back to my neighborhood and do some grocery shopping to cook my meals for the day. Towards the evening, meet up with some friends for some tapas or at a recommended restaurant.
Q: If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go and why?
A: Now that I have done some traveling in Europe, I want to go travel Asia and South America. If I could choose to travel anywhere tomorrow, I would want to go to South Korea. South Korea is a country with so much culture that I hope I can have at least a glimpse into. Going to Spain was a country where I felt more comfortable going to because I now it’s native language and I had previously travelled there. On the other hand, South Korea has an entirely different language that I know nothing of so I would be interested in taking that extra step of experiencing a culture so different from mine.