In October of 2015 I declared my major as Spanish. From that moment I realized that I would have to study abroad for a semester. I decided that the upcoming fall semester would be the perfect time to go as I had just finished all the grammar classes required for the major.
One major part of me preparing to leave for Spain was the SPAN 321 course with Dr. Barbara Buedel; the History of Spanish Art class had an embedded travel piece where during spring break we traveled to Spain. This experience gave me the confidence and the strength to travel again to Spain, alone. Dr. Buedel prepared me for a semester abroad by teaching me to navigate the streets, ride the metro, how to order food in a restaurant, and how to be careful while out. I am truly grateful for my experience with Dr. Buedel abroad. Likewise, Dr. Sandra Kingery has been very supportive in this process. Sandy recounted to me her experiences abroad and helped alleviate my fears. My experience working with her this summer through the Mellon Grant also gave me the confidence to know that I am quite proficient in the Spanish language and would find great success abroad, too.
Probably the most important preparation was mental. The whole month leading up to me leaving I was crying every day. I was so scared and I could never really pinpoint about what. But, when I would start to feel anxious or nervous I had to sit myself down and remind myself that this semester abroad is something good for me and that I needed it. My parents had to remind me every day that they were proud of me, my friends reassured me that they’d be there for me when I came back, and my boyfriend and I promised each other that we could have patience and get through this challenging time.
Still, as I’m now weeks into this journey I am reminding myself every day that this journey is the best thing to ever happen to me. It takes a lot of preparation to leave home and live in a foreign country for 16 weeks but I know I couldn’t do it alone. The support of faculty, my sorority sisters, my boyfriend, friends and family all make this a life-changing experience.