In the summer of 2017, I studied abroad in Seville with Auburn University College of Liberal Arts through GlobalEd Programs. Three weeks, seven students, numerous outings, and one incredible city—this is what made up the foundation of my study abroad experience.
I took a chance on this program. Although everyone who signed up was an Auburn student like myself, I knew no one. I had never been outside of the United States before, never flown by myself, and had never even taken a Spanish class. Yet all of this gave me the opportunity to face challenges, come out of my shell, and learn something new each day of the trip.
The biggest challenge—as many who have been abroad will say—was immersing myself in the culture. Living with a host family for the duration of the program made this an unavoidable aspect of my trip, but an element that I am so grateful for now. While my roommate and I often struggled to communicate with our host mother, we were able to experience Seville through her.
By watching how she spends each moment of the day, hearing her stories, and meeting her friends, I grew an appreciation for the different ways people around the world live. Fortunately, the class I was taking allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation for culture as well.
Our program was focused on international public relations for the three weeks we spent in Seville. Most of our learning took place outside of the classroom through tours and observations of various businesses and the city itself, rounding out what we were learning in the classroom. Having the opportunity to actually be in the country and surrounded by the people and culture you are studying allowed for even greater learning.
What has stuck with me since the first day of my time in Seville was what one of the amazing GlobalEd staff explained to us: having the best study abroad experience requires giving a little of yourself — a lesson I learned quickly. With a year gone by since I was in Seville, I have been able to use this reminder of “giving a little of yourself” in situations that are new or challenging.
Whether in the classroom, on the job, or in a leadership position, I have been able to employ what I have learned from my study abroad experience to help me in such a circumstance.
Seeing a new wave of college students spend their summer studying and learning all across the world is very exciting. Not only am I excited for them to explore and to grow, but for them to develop the relationships they did not even know were going to exist. I can honestly say each of my classmates turned into a friend during the course of our time abroad, and what is great is that we were able to keep these connections with each other when we returned to Auburn in the fall.
You are on these trips with a unique group of people—when you think back to your time abroad, each memory will have these new friends in it and they will be the only ones who you can truly look back with. So hold tight to these new friendships, and savor each day of your experience abroad.