As a fourth year here at UCLA, I have had many memorable experiences that have helped to solidify my love for this school. However, one that truly stands out was my time studying abroad in Spain this past summer. It has been a dream since I was a tiny freshman in High School to travel abroad and soak in the language, food, and lifestyle of a foreign country. Finally this summer that dream came true.
I applied through UCLA’s travel study program during the fall of my junior year with high hopes of taking off across the world just a few short months from then. Upon the arrival of my email acceptance, I was ecstatic, but also REALLY nervous! I am lucky to have a family that has traveled with me to many international locations; however, this was the first time I would be taking on a foreign part of the world by myself. Winter and spring quarter rushed by and by the end of June it was already time to hop on a plane and begin my journey abroad. I decided to take advantage of the close proximity of countries in Europe and began my travels in London where I spent eight cold, wet, but beautiful days exploring the London eye, Westminster Abby, and training my pinky finger to be classy at High Tea. Although my days in London were wonderful and filled with lots of photo-taking and tube-riding, I was ready to get out of the rain and into the sun! The adventure continued in Venice, Italy where I met up with two of my closest friends who were also studying abroad for the summer. Venice was definitely a change with an abundance of sun, pasta, tanned bodies, and GELATO. While my friends would take class in the mornings I would take a vaparretto across the canals and find myself lost in a maze of tiny streets filled with vendors, street artists and little Italian kids playing handball in the courtyards. It was bliss; a bliss filled to the brim with pistachio and coffee gelato.
Barcelona was the next destination I found myself in and was also the start of my Travel Study program through UCLA. The first three days were spent in Barcelona exploring the city, meeting and making new friends, and beginning our intensive Spanish language program. Then we traveled to Madrid for two days and then on to Granada for five weeks. The program was big, 80 students or so, and I was worried that I would have trouble making friends and finding my group to travel with for the next six weeks. However, my worries shortly subsided as I met some of the most kind, exciting, and open individuals of my UCLA experience. Students mainly from UCLA and some from other UC’s came together to create a lively community of travelers each bringing something unique to the program.
My favorite part of being in Spain was learning the language. My professor, Juan-Jesus, was one of the best professors I have had at UCLA thus far and he made my experience with learning a language that had always stumped me, easy! I promised myself to try to speak Spanish at least 75% of the time that I was in Spain and doing so helped me excel in class and my studies. My most memorable moment in Spain was when my friend was sick with the stomach flu, and I went to the pharmacy to pick up medication for her. I felt so accomplished after I had to converse with the pharmacist in only Spanish! Over the course of the program, I became extremely close with many students in the program, and we were able to travel to new places on weekends, try new foods and drinks, and spend nights dancing our feet off in salsa clubs. It was an experience that truly helped me discover who I am and what I want out of life; an experience that I would encourage all students at UCLA to discover!