Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Going Solo In Spain!

Q&A with Ashley: Studied in Spain
Share this
Print this
Ashley
Studied in Spain
University of Evansville
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
Instead of looking at it as something that would take me away from the familiar, I decided to view it as an adventure that I was fortunate to experience.
Her thoughts on First Impressions
All of a sudden I wasn't having fun any more. I was awakening from the dreamy version of studying abroad, and what I saw when I finally opened my eyes was the plain truth. 
Her thoughts on The Right Attitude
My experience turned out to be a success because I made it my own, and I grew to accept the city’s flaws along with its charms.
Her thoughts on Coming Home
I was apprehensive about returning because I had learned so much and wanted others to recognize that I had changed.

Where did you study abroad?

In Barcelona, Spain. I had just spent the summer at home after studying abroad in England the previous semester, so I was a little nervous about spending more time away from my university, friends, and family. What was I going to miss while I was away? More than that, though, I was thrilled to be going back to Europe and excited for the challenges ahead. Instead of looking at it as something that would take me away from the familiar, I decided to view it as an adventure that I was fortunate to experience.

How did you deal with the cultural divide?

Studying abroad in a foreign county is not just about the classes you’re taking, or trying to improve your language skills; it is about adapting your whole life to a new – and sometimes hard-to-understand – culture. I was struck by just how different life was in Barcelona. Sure, it had many of the features of any big city, but it also had its own, unique cultural heritage. My first reaction to the culture was to embrace it. For about the first month or so I visited popular tourist sites such as La Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. I happened upon cool bookstores, sat in cafés sipping café con leche, and traveled to other parts of Spain. I was letting go of my need to always be armed with a plan and was just living. I was having fun! And then, surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, depending on your familiarity with culture shock), all of a sudden I wasn't having fun any more. I was awakening from the dreamy version of studying abroad, and what I saw when I finally opened my eyes was the plain truth. Barcelona was not perfect, all people were not always going to be nice, and my Spanish felt inadequate. And that was okay – eventually.

What made your study abroad experience a success?

It took a while to realize that my study abroad experience was not going to be perfect. Classes were getting progressively more intense, although still manageable. Sometimes I felt like everyone could tell I was an American, and that made me feel like an outsider. So for me, making my study abroad experience a success was a bit difficult. I learned that it was fine to not embrace the culture every minute of every day. Some days I would go see a movie in English or wear my Converse sneakers instead of the fashionable sandals most Spanish women wore. I even broke the cardinal rule of every traveler who tries to be a local: I entered (and thoroughly enjoyed) a Starbucks Coffee shop! I know, rebellious, right?! My experience turned out to be a success because I made it my own, and I grew to accept the city’s flaws along with its charms.

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

You don't have to be alone to be independent. My approach to living in Spain was that it was a test to see if I could survive in a big city, speak a foreign language and get along without anyone from home. I often did things alone and it felt great. Unfortunately, it also meant that I missed out on sharing some of the most wonderful moments. My trip to Bilbao is a good example: I flew there to see the Guggenheim Museum and to catch a glimpse of Basque country. Fast forward to me on a bus en route to the museum, totally freaked out because I wasn't sure which stop was mine. When we stopped, I panicked and walked up the aisle to tell the driver I wanted to get off. I was speaking in broken Spanish, and he wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence! I got flustered because he wouldn't open the door for me… but finally he just looked at me and pointed out the front window of the bus – we were at a stoplight, not a bus stop! I nodded, swallowed hard, and snuck back to my seat. I felt all eyes on me – everyone had witnessed my bus stop faux-pas! As soon as we were at the next stop, I jumped out even though I was nowhere near the Guggenheim. Looking back I can acknowledge that this was a hilarious moment. I thank everyone on that bus who so kindly fought back the urge to laugh at my expense! I also realize that I probably would have laughed then too if I was with a friend. So my advice is to be independent – dance to the beat of your own drum – just don't always choose to go it alone – sometimes it can get lonely.

What was your return like?

I was ready to go back home by the time the semester ended. It was the holiday season, and I missed the good ‘ole USA! But I was also apprehensive about returning because I had learned so much and wanted others to recognize that I had changed. School felt a little more difficult because I was taking several challenging classes, but I was so happy to see my friends and family. Since studying abroad, I have become even more obsessed with traveling. I love reading books about other people's travels. I think it is interesting to read about the challenges and funny moments that give color to people's journeys.

What are your future plans for career and travel?

I definitely see traveling overseas as a part of my life. There is just something so alluring about being in a different culture and meeting new people, whether it is for a vacation or for a semester in college. It makes me feel like I am truly living. I would like to be a Study Abroad Advisor at a university, so I definitely would like to develop knowledge of different types of study abroad programs and how to plan and oversee group trips. Along with that, I would like to learn more about the countries I would be advising students/faculty to visit, and perhaps travel there so I could give accurate, first-hand information and advice.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Ashley articulates her experience of entering into and adapting to a foreign culture very well – from the initial euphoria to the onset of culture shock and beyond. She’ll make a great study abroad advisor because she can articulate the problems that one encounters, and the best ways of getting past them. We’d recommend that Ashley spend more time abroad, or plan to pursue a master’s overseas to further develop her cross-cultural experience. We’d also suggest that she go somewhere outside of Western Europe in order to expose herself to a new region of the world – perhaps South Asia or South America. The more programs she participates in, and the more regions of the world she becomes familiar with, the better advice she’ll be able to give as a student advisor. Ashley could also consider teaching English abroad as a means of building experience in a foreign culture, while earning money and developing skills dealing with students, parents and the school environment. With every trip she takes abroad, Ashley should also take note of the cultural differences she encounters, and how they relate to North American norms. Being able to compare cultures and describe their various traits and differences is an extremely valuable and sought-after skill, especially for someone in an internationally-oriented position. 

Ashley's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Earn $50 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
9768
- # of # Filtered -
  • 90
90
15387
Bliss on a Budget in Brazil
1
15405
From Daydream to Reality: Teaching Abroad
2
15401
From Korea to Oman: Teaching English Around the World!
3
15383
Hustle and Bustle in Vietnam
4
15347
12 Months, 12 Countries!
5
15333
A Literary Education in the UK
6
15327
An Open Mind & Open Arms in Spain
7
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
8
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
9
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
10
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
11
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
12
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
13
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
14
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
15
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
16
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
17
9748
Adventure In The Alps
18
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
19
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
20
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
21
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
22
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
23
9754
Building Memories In India
24
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
25
9752
Giving In Guatemala
26
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
27
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
28
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
29
9753
A Season In Sweden
30
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
31
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
32
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
33
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
34
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
35
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
36
10157
Changing Course In China
37
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
38
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
39
9787
A Spring Semester In London
40
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
41
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
42
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
43
9771
Learning To Love London
44
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
45
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
46
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
47
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
48
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
49
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
50
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
51
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
52
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
53
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
54
9773
Independent In India
55
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
56
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
57
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
58
9762
American Freshman In London
59
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
60
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
61
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
62
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
63
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
64
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
65
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
66
10851
Tips From Tasmania
67
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
68
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
69
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
70
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
71
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
72
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
73
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
74
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
75
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
76
14088
An Eye-Opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
77
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
78
9737
Passionate About Panama
79
10192
Out And About In Paris
80
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
81
9756
Springtime In Spain
82
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
83
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
84
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
85
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
86
9765
Simpatico In Florence
87
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
88
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
89
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
90
9768
All Job Boards
458
All NGOs
1419
Au Pair Resources
40
Awards And Grants Resources
54
Business Directories
17
Canadian Federal, Provincial And Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
29
Children And Families Abroad
16
Consulting, Economic And Finance Job Boards
63
Country Guides
71
Cross-cultural Skills
79
Engineering Job Boards
58
Engineering Resources
80
Expatriate Networking Sites
32
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
29
General Job Search Books
16
Global Education And Social Action
43
Health And Medicine Job Boards
49
Health Career Resources
66
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
45
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Organizations
266
International Internships And Student Programs With Canadian Governments
31
International Internships With The US Government
39
International Job Hunting Resources
13
International Law Careers Resources
115
International Law Job Boards
27
International Studies In The US And Canada
13
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
475
Internship Directories And Advice
43
Internships With The UN And Other IGOs
155
Language Careers
28
Learn A Language
96
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
30
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
32
Loans for Studying Abroad
19
Low-cost Travel
63
NGO Directories
34
NGO Job Boards
47
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
103
Relocating Abroad
26
Resources For International Students Studying In The US Or Canada
51
Stories From Abroad
90
Study Abroad Resources
184
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
97
Teach English Abroad Resources
64
Tools for Travelers
75
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
85
Travel Health And Safety
39
UN and Other IGOs
257
UN And Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN And Other IGOs Resources
69
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
35
Visas and Passports
25
Volunteer Directories And Advice
52
Women Living And Working Overseas
18
Working Vacation Resources
59