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!