This past weekend while spending time in rural Ohio for a wedding (drastically different from what I’m used to here in Tacoma), experiencing Catholic tradition, I was reminded that there is so much beauty and opportunity to learn in a new environment if open to it. This week, I will be on a plane to embark on a journey with a handful of other UWT students to study abroad in Alicante, Spain. Being a college student, there has definitely been some concern around funding this trip and financial considerations, but the combination of constantly working, saving, and having immense support from our university has settled my nerves and has helped me to focus on the opportunity ahead. And let’s just say my open suitcase with piles of clothes on top is a bit of a disaster at the moment…
Four years ago, I had the opportunity to live in Madrid as an Au Pair for a few months, which is when I initially fell in love with the Spanish culture. Although there are many aspects of that experience that will prepare me for living in Alicante, such as the cuisine, pace of life, and family centered culture, I don’t want to let it strictly influence the expectations I have for this trip. As I hold my nineteen-year-old experiences dear to my heart, I am embracing this new experience with open arms and expect a whole new adventure. Also, I have not yet been in a classroom setting in another country, and am both nervous and eager to learn at the University of Alicante with other international students!
Four years ago when living in Madrid! So thankful for this opportunity to study abroad in Alicante.
I am thankful for my experience living in Madrid, as it has assisted in my cultural awareness and taught me to be open to occurrences contrary to my expectations. I hope to take this mindset with me to Alicante, as I truly don’t want to compare my experience of the new country to Madrid or the United States – rather just observe the differences and embrace them all. I’d be lying if I said I was a little apprehensive to meet my host family – perhaps they will be very different than my other classmates’ or different than a “typical” Spanish family. We may all experience different ways of living at home in Alicante, choose different extracurricular activities and have a variety of classroom environments. Regardless, I want to challenge myself to fully embrace the Spaniard way of living, however, I experience it. I am committing to myself to ditch my perfectionist nature and truly let myself observe and learn from others, even if it means being out of my comfort zone at times. However, through this time abroad, I want to stay true to myself, my beliefs, and embrace the change but implement my personality into this new life – whether it’s joining an exercise group, finding a church, or a friend who shares my interests.
As much as I have some nerves, I am extremely excited about experiencing the Spanish culture while living in Alicante and living like a local! One of the activities I’m most looking forward to is Los Hogueras de San Juan. It is a huge festival throughout Alicante dedicated to bonfires, a firework competition, and so much more I have yet to learn! Additionally, a goal I have set for myself that I’m eager to achieve is to become more conformable with the Spanish language and improve my fluency. While not wanting to compare my experience in Spain, I am sincerely looking forward to the Sobremesa – tradition of relaxing and conversing after the large afternoon meal – and human connection aspect of this beautiful culture. Lastly, of course, school and studying will come first, but if the opportunity arises to dance, I will absolutely say yes. I love dancing and Spanish music, which would be fun to blend together in a vibrant culture.
Here we go… Stay tuned to see what happens along this incredible journey to come!
One other thing I’m looking forward to again… the food!! Although I know it will take some adjustment with the different meals!