The first things going through my head as I arrived in Chicago were my family. It’d been a while since I had seen them, and I missed them so much. The part that really got me though was that everything was about to change so quickly again, but this time it’d be back to “normal”. My ‘normal’ in Spain had become seeing my new friends every day and figuring out what we were going to do that day and where we’d go that weekend. My responsibilities in Spain were to meet new people, go to new places, eat new food…oh and go to class too. All of a sudden I’m back in suburban Chicago, interning downtown with a 9 to 5. You’re telling me I can’t go to Italy this weekend? What the heck is going on! Yeah I’m definitely going to miss Spain, but I quickly realized was that it was the people I’d miss most, not the place.
Yeah I’d say study abroad didn’t change me, but it gave me the chance to develop and grow that’s for sure. Everyone I knew was approximately 4000 miles away, so I got pretty independent pretty fast. My people over there quickly became my priority. I made some amazing friends over there and I can’t imagine my semester without them! My buddies got me out of some tight spots, and I like to believe I did the same. We were all equally clueless and figuring things out as we went. Overall, I don’t feel too different at all. Just a little more mature I’d say. More prioritized. I love the US of A even more, that’s for sure. I’m appreciative of the cities, countries, and views I got to experience. After meeting people from all over, it’s a lot easier to now look at things and try to think of them in different ways.
My advice with abroad: if you can fit it into your schedule, do it! I was nervous about missing a semester at the greatest university in the US, The University of Ala-freakin-Bama! However, I quickly realized that everything will be okay when I get back in the fall of 2019, and this semester abroad was for me to do me. It’s scary as heck stepping onto that plane, that’s for sure, but it’s sooo worth it. You’ll make friends from freakin’ everywhere and you have opportunities that the US likely can’t give you (like flying to Ireland and Scotland and Portugal for spring break for less than $250 air fare, yep that was awesome). If you study abroad, just say yes to the fun plans your friends propose! Who cares if you have an exam on Monday, go to freakin’ Barcelona and study on the bus.
Last piece of advice: don’t judge a book by its cover. I walk into my dorm on the first day and I see this guy standing with his mom in the lobby, and I think to myself, “who is this dweeb getting dropped off by his mom on his first day of school in EUROPE?” well turns out he’s from Miami and his mom lives in Europe half the year. Huh, okay, much less dweeby than anticipated. This guy becomes my best broski abroad and we still laugh about my quick judgement call on the first day. Whoops, sorry Hootie.
To sum it all up, it is easy to think of study abroad and be quickly overwhelmed by the planning and the thought of it, but the rewards you’ll reap are much greater than the stresses of planning. You’ll make new friends, try new foods, see new places, and so much more. If you can, do it. You won’t regret it. It was an absolute honor getting to spend this last semester in Spain. Dang it is NICE to be home though! Roll Tide.