Kellie Higgins, Contributing Writer
Entering SUNY Oneonta I knew I wanted to study abroad. However, I was unsure about where I wanted to spend five months of my junior year at college. When considering locations I was very hesitant on choosing a country where I was unfamiliar with the language. After researching many options I chose Barcelona, Spain. Even though I was unfamiliar with this country, once I arrived I immediately immersed in the culture. I lived in a local part of the city called the “Gracia” district in a two bedroom apartment with a friend who was studying at another University. I soon realized that anything I needed I had to figure out on my own. My parents were not an easy phone call or text message away.
There were many things that I was nervous to try. For instance, I am petrified of heights; while I was in the village Postiano on the coast of Italy I had the opportunity to go cliff jumping. While I am not a huge fan of heights, I overcame my fear by asking myself if I would ever have another amazing opportunity to cliff jump in Italy. I closed my eyes and jumped. I still brag about this to people because I was actually proud I was able to do this. While I was in Madrid I went to a bull fight. During a traditional bullfight six bulls die within the span of two hours! Although this was horrific to watch, it was so interesting to go and experience a local pastime in Spain. In the States many fathers bring their sons to a baseball game whereas in Spain, fathers and their sons bond during a bullfight. Studying abroad really opened my eyes to the world and its differences. Nowadays people get so caught up with media and what is happening next that they never really stop and live in the moment.
Growing up everyone learns about the Holocaust, famous paintings, infamous man-made architecture. By having the opportunity to study abroad I was able to experience all of this firsthand. I visited a concentration camp while I was in Germany and the next weekend I was in Amsterdam walking through where Anne Frank hid for two years during the Holocaust. I toured each city I went to and learned a lot that I could have never learned in a classroom or from a book. I was able to appreciate artwork that I have only heard about or saw on the internet and was able to formulate my own opinions.
Studying abroad was a once in a life time opportunity. It is hard to describe in words what a life-changing experience this was for me. I learned a lot about myself through this amazing journey. I had to figure out many things on my own and I gained tremendous confidence. Growing up my parents always instilled in me the saying “carpe diem” which means “seize the day” in Latin. While I was abroad I tried to live each day to the fullest and to be adventurous. Of course I was extremely nervous going to Barcelona, but you only live once and traveling was something I always had on my bucket list of things I wanted to do in life. Even if you do not think you have the financial means, look into scholarships and student loans. In order to finance the extra cost I took out a student loan. I was a little hesitant at first but looking back on everything I did I know I made the right decision. I worked really hard to save up money and learned to be frugal with spending.
I had the most amazing time. While I was in Europe for five months I traveled to 13 different countries and 29 different cities. I did a lot of things that I never thought I would or could do.