Jessica Lisenba, this week’s featured blogger, is an International Education Ambassador at the University of South Alabama’s Office of International Education. She studies Spanish at USA and recently studied abroad on a Faculty Led Program in Cuenca, Spain. After having such an amazing experience abroad this summer, she is already starting to plan her next adventure.
Studying Abroad was challenging at first, but it ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made in my college career. Being submerged into a culture and a language that is not your own can seem quite terrifying. There’s a little bit of culture shock, but once that sets in, it’s the beginning of nothing but wonderful experiences. I studied in Cuenca, Spain in the summer of 2014 and I was able to share my adventures with 24 other wonderful students from the University of South Alabama. There were many favorite moments in the six very short weeks I spent there, but there is one that made the entire trip.
The second weekend in Spain, we were given a free weekend. All of us were set on going to Barcelona while we still had the money. I remember the process being so stressful, but what do you expect from 24 young adults who are all completely different? Once we finally figured out train tickets and hostels, all that was left to do was wait for Friday. I woke up that morning feeling nervous to be going for a weekend with my classmates who I still barely knew. The train ride was the first adventure of the trip; we took the AVE, which is the fast train. It took us longer than we anticipated to get there because of mechanical difficulties but none of that matter once we arrived. My eyes lit up like children’s do on Christmas morning. I had never seen a city more breathtaking.
Two other classmates and I decided to spend a little extra money and get a hostel on our own. We ended up breaking off from the group and doing our own thing. For us, this was easier and more enjoyable because we actually got to do the things we wanted in the small amount of time we had there. We spent a day at Park Güell, an evening on the beach, and a full day of sight seeing. We also ate tons of food – the paella was fabulous. We walked around Barcelona like we owned it.
The trip was short and bittersweet, but it is one I will never forget. Studying Abroad opens your eyes to so many things, and also opens your mind. Not only are you there to study, you get to explore things you’d never imagine possible. With the new and improved Office of International Education and their incredible resources, I may have to squeeze in another trip before I graduate! Maybe an Internship in southern Spain?