Lauren is an adventure seeker always looking for new places to explore. She is interested in learning about different cultures and studies International Business at her university.
Why did you choose this program?
I wanted a program that would really allow me to immerse myself into the European culture, boost my resume and offered interesting courses.
While I studied in Barcelona I had experienced living with a host mom who cooked, cleaned and helped me navigate throughout the city. When I moved to Rome I was in an apartment, being in an apartment allowed me to experience some more independence. I liked that I had two very different living experiences.
I chose this program because it was unique to some of the others I had researched. I found it extremely desirable to spend a summer living in two different countries. I had not seen a program like this from any other study abroad programs and felt that this was the best program to fit my wants.
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
My university gave me the opportunity to choose a location and program for my summer abroad experience. I had worked with a representative from Barcelona Study abroad experience who had sent me course descriptions to get approved by my university (yes, the "study" part of the study abroad was extremely important to me). My university prepared me pretty well for what to expect in the country and Barcelona SAE assisted me with any questions or concerns I had. I had booked my flight to Barcelona and flight home on my own but the program gives you a date and time you should arrive in the country.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Be open to trying new things and really immersing yourself into the culture. Once you go abroad you'll realize that not everything is the same as to what you are used to. I did a lot of research before I left so I knew what to expect when I arrived. Don't be grossed out by some of the things you see on menus (if it's on the menu people must enjoy eating it!).
The program also has a ton of pre-planned activities which are a lot of fun! These programs are a great way to learn more about the city and a lot of them involved food!
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
An average week would involve class Monday-Thursday and explore the city in between or after classes. At least once a week the program would have an activity planned so I would attend that! On some nights my friends and I would go to the bars and clubs. On the weekends I would travel to different cities within the countries or surrounding countries.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was not being able to get around the cities on my own! The program gave us plenty of information on how to use the public transportation and learning about the different parts of each city. After about a week in each country, I had transportation routes down!
Another fear I had was not making any friends to explore with. I had gone on this study abroad on my own (terrifying) but the program does orientations and gives you plenty of experience with meeting new people!
My last fear was the language barrier. I had very little experience with speaking Spanish. When I landed in Barcelona almost everyone I talked to understood and spoke English but when I meet my host mom she knew little to no English and I only knew about 10% of what she was saying to me! I was so scared to be spending a month with someone I couldn't communicate with. But thankfully Google Translate was invented!! She had taught me plenty of Spanish phrases and words that were extremely useful throughout Spain. Don't be afraid to learn new things!