It’s Necessary to Leave In Order to Learn

The idea of spending a semester abroad always appealed to me because I was born and raised in Louisville and haven’t been away from this city for more than a week or so. Therefore, coming into college, I knew I wanted to participate in some sort of study abroad program to experience a different city and culture for a longer period of time. Since, my minors are Spanish and International Business, I decided that I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country for a semester. I wasn’t completely sure how I would handle the separation from my friends and family for so long, but I knew it was something I needed to do for myself to grow as a person. I spent months planning and debating where to study, which programs to go through, and what classes to take. I reached out to nearly everyone I knew that had previously studied abroad what they did and how their experiences were. I finally chose Sevilla, Spain because I wanted a large city with a smaller town feel that would have a strong Spanish culture.

Studying abroad turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. Being independent of my family and friends for an entire semester helped me gain self-reliance and general life skills I never would have gained back home. I’ll admit that I was put in mildly uncomfortable situations on a regular basis…but this wasn’t a bad thing at all. If anything, it taught me a lot about myself and how to handle any situation that is thrown at you. Whether it was miscommunicating with locals on a daily basis or missing the wrong stop on the metro, I learned a significant amount about handling problems and high-stress situations in a calm and logical manner.

Additionally, communicating with my host parents and locals on a daily basis helped improve my proficiency in Spanish; however, what contributed the most was the linguistic exchange program I signed up for. It essentially paired me up with a local student from Universidad de Sevilla and I would meet up with her every week and we would go to her favorite restaurants and other spots in the area and I would practice my Spanish and she would practice her English. It helped me become better accommodated to the city and the culture of Sevilla. My professors and host parents also showed me the European perspective of the United States which was not only eye-opening but also refreshing to see how other countries thought of us. The classes I took helped me realize that I’m very interested in the concept of globalization and pursuing a career in international business.

Overall, my study abroad experience improved my perspective on not only business, but the world in general. I think every student should take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad because they will learn a significant amount about themselves and develop general life skills that they aren’t necessarily able to develop in the U.S. You can only benefit from stepping outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis and experiencing new places and cultures however often you can.


5 Things I Miss About Sevilla, Spain

1. My scenic walks to school
One of the main things that I miss about Sevilla is my walk to and from school every day. I’d leave my host family’s apartment in Los Remedios, the business district of the city, cross a busy bridge over the Guadalquivir River that runs through Sevilla and connects it to the more touristy part of the city. Then I make my way through Parque Maria Luisa, Sevilla’s principle green area that serves as a botanical garden and has as monuments spread throughout. However, the most impressive part of my walk was when I’d reach the park’s centerpiece, Plaza de Espana. It felt like I was in a movie with how beautiful and scenic everything was.

2. Never being bored
I was never bored in Sevilla. There was always something fun and interesting to do. Whether it was attending a bull fight at the local bull ring, going canoeing on the river, going to Flamenco shows every Thursday night, or even just going to the riverfront to share a bottle of wine with some friends, I always had something to occupy my time with. There was even a huge wooden structure in the shape of mushrooms in the middle of the city the locals referred to as Las Setas that we would go to for the best sunset view. I truly miss how easy it was to make exciting and spontaneous plans on a regular basis.

3. Exploring the different neighborhoods
There were a lot of students in my program and our housing was separated into four neighborhoods: Porvenir, Nervion, Triana, and Los Remedios. I was able to walk and bike to the other neighborhoods easily, and I always felt safe wherever I went. An area in Porvenir locals referred to as La Juderia (the Jewish quarter) was one of my favorite places to explore because it was the epitome of what you would expect a Spanish neighborhood to look like: narrow, cobble-stoned streets with colorful buildings that were a range of tapas bars, cafes, and boutiques.

4. My host family
Staying with a host family definitely had a positive impact on my study abroad experience. My host parents were very caring and dependable and helped get me accommodated to the Spanish lifestyle. Although they were older and felt more like grandparents to me, they were very energetic and always seemed genuinely happy to see me every time I came back from classes or a weekend trip.

5. The friends I made
I made some really strong friendships during my study abroad experience and I think it’s due to the fact that we all bonded over being on our own in a different country for an entire semester. I got to experience so many new and incredible things with the people in my program and I learned a significant amount about myself and about life in general with them.