When I look back at my arrival day here in Barcelona, I giggle a bit. I had certainly underestimated the weather, I wore layers of clothing and was as nervous and anxious as ever. So here i was, sweating my a** off pulling two suitcases and a backpack, attempting to find where the taxi location was for about half an hour, and most likely looking super paranoid. I had gotten the phrase, “be careful of pickpocketters, they are everywhere!!” stuck in my head. I wasn’t just afraid of getting my things stolen. After a week of being in Barcelona, I became worried about not making any friends. It seemed like every student studying abroad had their own friends from back home or had already formed their own clique. I also began hearing students talk about how they travelled over the weekend and i began to feel pressure to travel myself.
However, I soon realized that comparison to others is a silly thing, especially if you are studying abroad. The experience should be about you, and what goals you want to fulfill. Traveling within Europe while studying abroad was never something i wanted to do right away, my priority was to first explore Barcelona as much as i could. In time, I let go of all of the pressures to travel as soon as possible and simply fulfilled my own desires.
I took advantage of my study abroad provider program, AIFS, and did several activities in the city. I was amazed by the Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic church designed by Gaudi. The Salvador Dali museum also blew my mind away (because of how confused i was by his art). I also enjoyed the simple things in the city, from walks in the park to eating at local restaurants. Doing these activities also led me to meeting some incredible people, other international students and even locals.
For now, I don’t regret staying in Barcelona during the first month of my study abroad. Most of all, I am glad I followed my own path on this amazing journey.
— Julissa Hernandez