What I Learned from Studying Abroad

Programs for this blog post

Liberal Arts

Authored By:

Madilyn H.

Hello everyone!

Thank y'all so much for following along with me all semester, I have really enjoyed writing, posting, and videoing for you guys. I hope that all of the content I've created up until this point was beneficial, informative, or interesting to you. I have less than a week left in Barcelona, which means this is officially my last post :((( I am dreading going home, I have seriously had the best semester abroad!!!! With that being said I've been spending the past couple days reflecting on my time here (and studying for finals of course). And when I think back to the first day I arrived, I know I have grown so much. So, I wanted to dedicate this final post to some things that I have learned along the way and how I've grown as an individual.

For my Internship Seminar class, (side note if you are at all able I definitely recommend doing an internship abroad) for our final paper and presentation my professor asked us to think about our takeaways, not just from our seminar or the internship itself, but just for our lives in general. Immediately, the first thing that comes to my mind is how much more flexible I am compared to when I got here. I have never been a go-with-the-flow type of girl, I am extremely Type A (organized, detailed, intense at times, perfectionist, etc). Yet, after a semester abroad I found myself doing little things I would have never done: letting one of my friends cut 6 inches off my hair, choosing to be a minimalist packer for my trips to other countries, and saying yes to whatever plan my friends came up with when it came to our excursions here in the city. There's something about being in Spain, or maybe just abroad in general, that forces you to really slow down. So many things are out of your control: the language, new schools, new culture, public transportation, you name it! So while it may not have been entirely my own doing that I started relaxing and being more flexible, I am so grateful that that is what happened. 

The next takeaway that I have is somewhat similar, to not be afraid to make mistakes. When I got here I was so nervous to speak Spanish outside of the classroom, I didn't want people to think I was dumb for messing up and butchering conjugations and verb tenses. It was especially hard for me at my internship, I was always terrified of making mistakes in front of my boss or coworkers and that they'd somehow think that I didn't belong. However, all of this could not be further from the truth. Everyone makes mistakes, no one can be perfect. I thought of myself, and how many grammatical errors I can make on any given day speaking in English, and I realized that no matter who you are: it's inevitable. Once I came to this realization, I feel like I was finally able to open up and take my Spanish speaking abilities to a completely new level. And honestly, native speakers always appreciate people trying to speak their language, rather than sticking to English.

Finally, studying abroad has given me a new layer of confidence. Not only with speaking and Spanish skills, but in all aspects of my life. I've had to figure out how to navigate an entirely new city, a new language, make new friends, make good grades, and somehow still have time to have fun. There have been times where it's exhausting, but every day I know it's worth it. After facing various challenges here, from navigating myself in other countries without phone service (I know, sounds impossible right), to getting on a train online to realize I purchased tickets for the wrong day, and enduring some fairly challenging classes (all of which were taught in Spanish), I know that I can face anything. 

Ultimately, I know that I am leaving Barcelona and returning home a newer, better, and more mature version of myself and for that, I will ever be grateful for my study abroad experience. Thanks for reading! Sincerely, Madi Hoffman :)