I believe that
if a student ever has the chance to study abroad, it is a precious opportunity
that cannot be taken for granted. As we are in a new decade, it is important to
realize that our society is on the tipping point between order and chaos. Every
day, people being hurt by global crises such as climate change, political
corruption, and violence. It pains me to read how the world seems to become
more and more dangerous as time passes. For me, having the chance to study
abroad has allowed me to experience life
in a different country but has also inspired me to accomplish more goals both
at Bates and beyond.
This past fall
semester I had the great pleasure of studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. During
that time, I felt that I grew not only as a student but also as a person.
Before I traveled to Spain, I had many reservations about going to a different
country. During my sophomore year at Bates, I endured a lot of difficult
challenges, both academically and emotionally. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a
great year and I felt as though Bates wasn’t the right place for me. I believed
that my sophomore year was filled with a lot of stress, pain, and pessimism.
When I realized that I was going abroad, one of my main goals was to improve my overall outlook on life and be more
positive. Additionally, one of my few reservations about going to Spain was
whether or not I was going to meet like-minded people and make friends. Especially
last year at Bates, I found it difficult to maintain the friendships that I made during my freshman year and
create new friends as well. However, I was relieved to find out that my reservations
were just mere misconceptions about study abroad.
For me, Madrid,
Spain was not only a great place to study abroad it was one of the greatest
experiences of my life. While some may
think it may be cliché to study abroad
Spain because I major in Spanish, for me, it was much more than simply speaking
and learning another language. Traveling to Spain was a wonderful opportunity for
me because I had the chance to do something that I never was able to be at Bates
last year: being happy and enjoying my surroundings. Whether it was taking
classes, or going out to dinner, or traveling to a historical site, there was
always something new to experience in Spain. Additionally, one of the many ways
that Spain surprised me was how hospitable and generous the people were.
While I was
abroad, I lived in a dorm with other Spanish-speaking students and I was able
to connect with many of them in a profound and amicable way. Now as I am here
and back at Bates it is hard not to miss Spain. The warmth, the excitement, and
the diversity of Spain has allowed me to develop a new mindset of the world and
society. In Spain, I met people who had suffered greatly from economic hardship
and political corruption. Similarly to the United States, many people in Spain
are angered by the social imbalance in the country. It was emotional to hear
the stories of those who were affected by the country’s historical economic
crisis in 2008. I felt as I was engaging in those conversations, I was able to
learn not only more about the culture in Spain but also people’s lives as well.
More importantly, I was able to converse with people on a personal and
emotional level which was a humbling and heartwarming experience.
isn’t just a time to spend off-campus,
it is a time to explore a part of the world
that you didn’t even know existed. It was an incredible opportunity to get out
of my comfort zone and become more aware
of a global society. Spain is a beautiful country with so many energetic people. Hopefully being back at
Bates, in the shivering weather of Lewiston,
Maine, I hope to find warmth in such a