Exploring Barcelona and Beyond

Before leaving Barcelona, I had one last day to soak up the city’s beauty. I spent it sitting near the Sagrada Familia, watching people taking pictures and admiring the architecture. It brought back all the memories from my time abroad—meeting people, exploring new places, and staying up late to experience it all. All I could do was smile. During my time abroad I visited over 16 cities, 10 different countries and 3 different continents. While I was there, it felt like the adventure would never end, but now it feels like it flew by.

Now that I’m back in the United States, I’ve been thinking about the most memorable parts of my study abroad experience. The coolest thing was definitely pushing myself to try new things and meet new people. It all started in Lisbon when my roommates and I ended up in different rooms at our hostel. I wasn’t thrilled about it at first, but it turned out to be amazing. The people I roomed with were studying abroad too, just like us. I introduced them to my Barcelona roommates, and we all had a blast exploring the city together.

This sort of experience wasn’t limited to Lisbon though. In Brussels, where I went on a scholarship trip, I met many study-abroad students studying all over Europe. A few weeks later, when I was in Rome alone, I posted a picture on social media. One of the students from Brussels reached out to me because they were studying there too. They ended up showing me around, introducing me to their friends, and spent the rest of my trip with them. Another time, a different student from Brussels connected me with their friends who were visiting Barcelona. We became friends, and I even took a spontaneous trip to Portugal with one of them. These unexpected experiences are what made studying abroad so amazing. Not only did I make friends from all over the world, but I also got to explore incredible places while doing it.

One thing I’ll definitely miss from my time abroad is the feeling of being a stranger. Back home I run into people I know everywhere I go. But being abroad, everything was different. Walking down the streets, grocery store runs, and going out to eat all while being in my own world. I didn’t know anyone, and that made everything exciting. On my very first day back in the U.S., I went to a store and saw a bunch of familiar faces. It’s nice to see friends, but it was nice not being known by anyone as well.

Looking back at my adventures from Barcelona to Marrakech, Paris, Istanbul and many more places, I’m filled with gratitude for the incredible experiences and lifelong connections I’ve made. Stepping out of my comfort zone and connecting with people from different parts of the world opened my eyes to so many new things. From chance encounters in hostels to spontaneous reunions in different cities, each impromptu adventure made my study abroad journey absolutely unforgettable.

John Rangel (’24) is a Business Administration Major studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain through CEA Study Abroad

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