1. Why did you decide to study abroad?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to experience living in a completely new culture. After living in a small town all my life, I wanted to see more of the world and try living in a big city where I didn't know anyone. Traveling has always been a passion of mine and I knew this opportunity would allow me to see different parts of not only Spain, but other parts of Europe as well. At first, I was nervous about leaving Saint A's for an entire semester because I was worried about all the things I would miss out on, but I decided to go because I realized I would never have this opportunity again. I wanted to try something new and put myself in a situation where I had to meet new people, adapt to a new way of living, and speak a different language in every day life. I was eager to see and experience what other parts of the world had to offer and this was the perfect chance to do that.
2. If you could tell someone one reason why they should go, what would you say?
It is hard to think of just one reason to go abroad, but in my opinion, students should go because it is an opportunity that you most likely will never have again. You have the chance to go to school and live in a new country, meet people from all over the world, and travel any and every weekend throughout Europe. It is a chance to experience different cultures and learn about how other people live outside of the U.S. The whole experience opens your eyes to how big the world really is and forces you to be a strong and independent person. You come back with traveling fever and realize there is so much out there to do and see. It is hard to explain how truly amazing studying abroad is which is why I think everyone needs to experience it for themselves. It teaches you more about yourself and the world around you than you could ever imagine which is why it is an opportunity that needs to be taken advantage of.
3. What was the most memorable experience you had while studying abroad?
The most memorable experience I had while studying abroad was being able to travel to many different countries. I was able to go to places such as Germany, Italy, and Austria and I will never forget those weekends that I was able to experience a small taste of all different cities with crazy amounts of history. One of my passions is photography and I was in awe at the beautiful sites that I saw where pictures could not even do it justice. It was truly memorable to be able to see so much in just four months.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you had to face while studying abroad?
The biggest obstacles I faced while studying abroad were managing my time and finances. While being abroad, one of the hardest things is having to be cautious of how much money you are spending. Because there are so many new things to see and buy, it is tough to decide what you can afford to spend your money on. While keeping this in mind, you also have to remember the costs of food, transportation, and all the little things that go along with living on your own. Time management is also difficult while abroad because when you first get there you feel like you're just on a four-month vacation. Once classes start up, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of being abroad, with the option of being able to travel every weekend. It is hard to get yourself to go to class and get work done when you know all of the other new things you could be doing instead.
5. What was your first week like abroad?
My first week abroad felt like a dream. Between the jetlag, excitement to finally be abroad, and the nervousness of meeting new people and living in a non-English speaking country, my head was spinning and nothing felt real. I couldn't believe that this was going to be my home for the next 4 months, across the world from my family and friends. My group's orientation lasted the entire week and we spent that time getting to know each other while learning how to adapt to our new environment. Our leaders introduced us to Barcelona by taking us on a hike to see the view of the city, teaching us about Catalan customs, and bringing us to restaurants where they served typical Catalan food. By the end of the week, our group of 30 kids already felt close and ready to begin our journey abroad together.
6. Express two or three things that help us to understand how you felt living in the city of Barcelona.
Living in Barcelona was amazing because there is always something to do. The transportation is easy to figure out and there are so many different parts of the city to explore. I always say that even if I lived in the city for a full year I still wouldn't have been able to see and experience everything they have to offer. The Catalans have so much pride for their culture and it is exciting to be a part of it and experience the festivals they have to celebrate. For the most part, I felt extremely safe living in Barcelona. The city is known for not having much crime, but their main problem is the amount of pick pocketers that lurk in touristy locations and on the metros. Although it is considered a huge problem in the city, as long as you are aware of your surroundings and look after your belongings it is easy to avoid being pick pocketed. After weekends of traveling, Barcelona was an awesome city to come back to. Although it is a huge city, it felt like a place you could call home and it was exciting to get back to their way of living.
7. Would you recommend this university to others? Why or why not?
I would recommend this school for those who don't mind the grading system. At UAB, most of the professors only have a midterm and a final with a few presentations in between. If students like this and can manage having their grade depend on so little, than I think it is a good fit. Although a lot of students attend this school, the class sizes are fairly small with only 15-25 kids in each class. There are two campuses for UAB and the students are mostly American along with students from Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Holland etc. Overall I would recommend UAB to those who like the feel of a big school. Most professors rarely offer extra help and do not work on getting to know your name or how you are as a student, you are simply a number. You have to be very independent because the professors leave you completely on your own. Also, UAB does not have classes on Fridays, which is nice because it gives students a chance to travel because of the long weekends.
8. What advice would you give to students to help them in choosing a program?
When choosing a program, it is important to look at all the things they have to offer as well as what school they are affiliated with. Look at the trips and activities the program tends to do and decide if those are the types of trips you want to be going on with your group. More importantly, make sure that the school the program offers is a good fit for you. Look at the way the classes are set up as well as the grading systems because their teaching methods are usually very different from what we are used to at Saint A's.