Before embarking on my study abroad experience, I had no idea what to expect. I had never been so far away from home before for such an elongated period of time, so I knew that it was not going to be easy, but I was excited to travel and discover a renewed sense of independence and appreciation for the world around me. My experience was unique because I had the opportunity to live with a host family, who welcomed me in immediately as one of their own children. I was able to truly get a sense of the Spanish culture, and had a home to come back to everyday (which helped with the homesickness!). I was also able to join a gym in the city, which may seem like a minuscule thing, but it really gave me the opportunity to share my passion for fitness with people from around the world, and interact with them on that level. Finally, I loved being able to travel somewhere new every weekend, and experience a completely different culture. This aspect, while it was extremely exciting each time, gave me a much deeper appreciation for different cultures, and I was able to connect with different people throughout my entire experience. I made so many new friends during my semester that I got to travel and enjoy Barcelona with, which really added to my experience in a big way. We were in the city during a period of political unrest, and while this should have frightened me, I was simply fascinated to learn AND experience history being made. Barcelona striving for independence is something that future generations are going to learn about in their history classes, and I was blessed enough to be a part of the action, and see the unwavering determination in the people of the city, despite the brutal retaliation. When I returned to the United States, I was a much more independent and confident individual because I had to conquer so many challenges, create my own daily schedule, and travel around Europe by myself. In terms of any tips that I can offer future travelers, I would say to not be afraid to take everything in. The entire experience seems so intimidating at first, but the sooner you start going to events, traveling, and experiencing what your host city has to offer, all of your fears will simply melt away. You will surely discover interest that you never knew you had, and learn so much more about yourself than you think. Be brave, and don’t let the distance from home hold you back in any way!