Hasta Pronto!

Saying Goodbye has always been hard for me because it has such a strong impact. How do I portray myself in a way to show that I appreciate everything a person, group of people, or organizations have done for me? That becomes the big question that lingers in my mind. However, I always come back to the first conclusion. It is simply by saying Thank you. Thank you for taking some time out of your days to help me whether it was with my Spanish or recommendations on places to visit in Valencia. Thank you for some incredible stories and letting me into a unknown place with open arms. I really had no idea what I was going to experience when coming to Spain and being able to spend my time at Polibienestar has been ever so delightful. The lessons I have learned to the people I have gotten to know, I will forever be grateful. Therefore, all I can say is Hasta Pronto! I don’t believe in true goodbyes because I see a moment in the future where I can meet all the people that have had an impact on my life. I believe that there will be a time where I return to Valencia and share my life experiences with everyone. So I say once again,
Hasta Pronto mis amigos/amigas!

Hasta Luego Valencia..

Man these past six weeks have been tough, from experiencing culture shock, to getting sick on the second week, to reading 25 page articles till 1 AM. I repeat, man these past six weeks have been tough, but man how I wouldn’t trade them for the world. At first I didn’t really know if this trip and placement was the right fit for me, but I soon ealized that It was going be an opportunity for self-growth.These past few weeks have been weeks of learning, growing in my own language and living in a new culture, an opportunity that not many would have the privileged to say they’ve had. An experience that has impacted my life one way or another. I am truly grateful to have had this chance to expand and to step out of my comfort zone. It has helped me view the world a little bit grander, and appreciate life a little bit more. How do you say goodbye to that… Yes I do miss home, and I do miss the things that I’m accustomed to but, I know that once I get back I will want it all over again. Interning that the UNHCR allowed me to learn about what many back home don’t know, the fact that there are hundreds of individuals who witnessing war, persecution and hunger at this persist moment and more than half the world is not doing anything about it, is mind blowing. Of course we all have seem the commercials that display and encourage our participation, but nothing is better than actually being a part of an organization that works to make a difference. That works to impact others and to educate the public about the truths and hardships of being a refugee. I am grateful to be a part of a team that value my opinion and encourage my innovative ideas, making me feel like I’m part of a something bigger than myself. Yes, there has been challenging moments where I was not experienced enough or my communication was off, but there wasn’t a moment where those around me didn’t take the time to patiently guide me through every task .Those challenging moments pushed me to not only burst out of my bubble, but also enhance my skill sets that will later help me in future and I have only them to thank. Therefore, I plan to exercise the confidence and knowledge I have acquired at the UNHCR and in my Valencia experience as a whole, towards my dreams and aspirations, staying in touch with those who have help to do so. Therefore, with that being said, there is no good way to say goodbye to the people who have impacted your life, who have helped you see a little clear or who have helped you grow a little bit taller there’s no better way than Hasta Luego, see you soon Valencia, and until next time…

When you’re taking a group pic and your professor photobombs you lol

Just arrived in Madrid, about to board our connecting flight!

Tour at La Lonja with amazing mentors !

Outside of the Museum of Las Fallas, our last tour together !

In Rome, with one of the most amazing souls I’ve ever met <3

Bittersweet Goodbye

In the beginning of our study abroad adventure Professor Piñeros-Shields prompted us students to write a letter to our future selves. This letters purpose was to identify not only our hopes but our expectations from the opportunity we were about to embark on when studying in the foreign country of Spain. In this journal entry I wrote much about my plans to be genuine. Being genuine and authentic when building the relationships with people I meet during my time in Valencia, and in particular with the people I interact with at my internship.My internship placement is at the Centros de Acogida a Refugiados in Mislata (CAR-Mislata).  In my first journal entry I also had spoke about my expectations for my internship, I expected to have learned more on the topic of migration as a whole and in particular to find out exactly what a refugee was and what it meant to be one. At the center for refugees, CAR-Mislata, I have worked closely with various social workers who were kind enough to take time out of their already very demanding schedule in order to help get me settled into my internship. The staff of CAR are dedicated and hard working. The employees of CAR-Mislata, specifically Visi and Amin, made sure I was not only made aware of the purpose of the center, but also what exactly its mission and core values are. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to work hands-on with many refugees that reside in the facility of CAR-Mislata. I have spent 80+ hours for the past 6 weeks at CAR-Mislata, getting familiar with the staff and residents of CAR. The individuals who I personally got to know all varied in age, there are refugees that I have come in contact with that were between the ages of 1 month old to forty+ years old. I have worked with children and family units as well as with men and women that were similar in age to myself. Both the employees and the residents of CAR are all responsible for the center’s character and they make the center what it is today. When thinking about saying goodbye a bittersweet feeling washes over me. I will never forget the beautiful people I met at the center, or the eye opening stories I was told by them. Saying goodbye feels as if I’m almost being unfair. Most of the young women I have been interacting with came off of the Aquarius, a large ship transporting more than 900 refugees from Libya. These young Nigerian women have found a friend in me, and I have found a friend in them. I have learned so much about their experiences and hardships. I have gained insight into their realities and lives, it feels unfair of me to leave them knowing that I bring a sense of joy into their every days lives. But I know that we will remain in touch with one another through social media, I can not wait to see where these young women go and what they make of their lives, their futures are bright. My time at CAR-Mislata is soon coming to an end and I will soon have to say goodbye to all the wonderful people I have met. I will never forget this diverse group of people that I was introduced to by interning at CAR-Mislata. I will forever carry their faces and stories in my heart and going forth I will live my life with more cultural competence and awareness of the world around me.

-Bianca xoxo

Adiós Por Ahora

As we come to the end of our journey here in Valencia, Spain I have mixed feelings. A part of me is excited to go home and see my husband and family, and another part of me is already missing the amazing people I have met. I am feeling sad, but I am also very fulfilled with my experience studying abroad in Valencia. The young boy in the photo is from Venezuela. Him, his mother, and two sisters came to Spain in hopes of better medical treatment for A. A has Cerebral Palsy, and since arriving to Spain in April, his condition has improved greatly. Although there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, A has been able to get the nutrients that he needs in order to survive. Last week at the refugee center, A and his family were moving out to start their new life in their own apartment. It was so hard to say goodbye to A. His mother and I exchanged whats app numbers so we can keep in contact and I can check in on how A is doing. In such a short amount of time I have fallen in love with Valencia. I know that in the future I would like to return, so for me it is not a goodbye to Valencia, its a see you later! I am sad to say goodbye to all of the residents and staff at the refugee center, but I am ultimately thankful for their participation in my experience. I could not have asked for a better group of students to work with by my side, and faculty and peer mentors who all made this experience unforgettable. This study abroad trip will forever be a huge part of me. I have learned a lot about myself and the world I live in. This was a priceless experience that has taught me the importance of traveling and cultural awareness. Adiós por ahora Valencia, te amo.


I have less than one week left at my internship and just a few more days of this experience in the City of Valencia, I am feeling excited to go back home but also sad to say goodbyes to all of these new people I met here in Valencia. I feel like there are no right words to say, to thank all of these people who took the time to be with my classmate and I. Especially at my internship I want to thank all of those people who took me in and made me feel like I was part of the organization. I feel bless to have the opportunity to meet some amazing people who introduced me to the culture of Valencia and also showed me that way the plan of youth works here. Learning about the youth plan in a deeper level is unreal to me because back home I work with youth and now I feel like I have a deeper learning about the youth of another country and culture and it is going to help me be better at my job.
I feel like it is a goodbye but at the same time I will be sure to keep in touch with those who took the time to help me learn about this amazing culture. I will keep all these connections because I am planning on coming back to Valencia again. I have growth as a person and I am ready to go back home with all of these positive things I learned here and tell my family. I will always carry and remember this experience that was full of amazing people including my classmates. Thank you again God for this opportunity. This is not a goodbye this is a see you soon. Gracias Valencia por enseñarme que en la vida lo material no lo es todo, y que la felicidad es lo mas valioso en nuestra vidas. Te amo por siempre!

Diciendo Adiós

I don’t feel like there is any way to say goodbye to my organization that will truly capture my level of appreciation for the opportunity I have been granted with over these last few weeks. I mean, I’ve gotten the chance to contribute towards social research in Valencia, Spain… think about that for a second. It all seems so surreal at this moment in time. I’ve gotten a chance to explore the culture and society of this region on a deeper level than the normal tourist/visitor. Not to mention all the new people I have had the pleasure of meeting – I will be sure to keep these connections alive and stay in touch with those who have had a positive influence on me.  With all that being said, admittedly, I feel like the time is right to return back home. The experience has been refreshing and it has been a good trip all together, however, I miss a lot of things back home and am looking forward to reuniting with them. I’m sure a week or two back into my normal routine I will be thinking, “Damn. What I’d give to be back in Valencia right now”, but as of right now, I’m looking forward to getting back to the states. I’ve learned some invaluable lessons on this journey. There’s something about being exposed to another culture and way of life that makes you reflect on and rethink the lifestyle that you have been conditioned to back home. Pulling yourself away from any situation and viewing it from an outsider’s perspective always teaches you something new about that situation and this is how I feel about life back home in America. I will return with my refined outlook and try my best to carry on all the positive aspects of this culture that I have adopted over this last month and a half. Surely, the memories generated throughout this trip will be ones that I reflect on for the remainder of my life.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Stepping out of my comfort zone and studying abroad in Valencia, Spain has been one of my biggest accomplishments yet. As we move into the final days of our adventures here, I cant help but to reflect on the all that I have learned through my internship, classes, and even random excursions that I would go on during the weekends. In the last five weeks I have learned about the different social and cultural perspectives that exist within Valencia which is what ultimately shapes the way of life here. Through social interactions, delicious dishes, and getting lost (yes it has happened many times!), I have allowed myself to learn about things that are considered to be the norm not just within Spain but also in Europe as a whole, along with traditions that are completely different to what I am used to.

Before coming on the trip, I had made it a goal to improve my spanish while studying in Spain for six weeks. Although the spanish language consists of many similarities, I was aware that Castellano (Spanish) has its differences compared to the Spanish I grew up speaking with my family. As soon as I arrived not only was I surprised by the different pronunciations to words (z=”th” sound) but it also became a big part of the culture shock I experienced. In many ways I am grateful for the support system I was constantly surrounded by to help me practice Castellano. Bringing together my previous knowledge of the language while learning the way it is spoken here in Spain was useful to balance out my language learning experience. As I facetime with family and friends from back home, they could hear the difference in my spanish, which is interesting because even though it feels like I have learned so much in such little time, I have not recognized this difference on myself. Maybe I will realize it once I am back home.

If there is one advice that I can give to the future students joining the program, it would be to take risks. Try different foods, get lost, dance your ass off. Step out of your comfort zone and become immersed in the culture. There is more to see than what is portrayed on the media back home!