The Discovery of Meaningful Living through Cena, Antoni Gaudí

I had a melting pot of emotions before going international — this was my first time going abroad and “flying solo” (literally). I had no idea what to expect. All I had brought with me was a suitcase of comforts to remind me of home and the adequate ability to speak Spanish.

I was a bit uneasy and anxious at the thought of beginning this journey alone. However, as I touched down in BCN, all that fear had vanished.

I’ve been living in Barcelona for about a week and already I’ve been humbled by the culture that embraces me with hospitality, kindness and simplicity. If I’m keeping count of the number of touristic activities that served to educate me on the beautiful, unique qualities of Spanish culture, it is of considerable worth. Yet, as I truly reflect on processing the value hidden behind these excursions and my personal interactions with the natives of Barcelona, it carries even more significance.

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¡Vale! ¡Gracias, Madrid!

During my time in Madrid, I thought to myself, “Why do I need to study abroad?”

As a kinesiology major, international experience is not something I thought I would need. However, during my experience with International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), I was able to answer my own question.

I brought a camera and a journal with me to record my experiences each day. Being able to reflect on day-to-day adventures, I found that I grew knowledgeable about Spanish culture and even myself. So let me take you through some pictures of my wonderful experience in Madrid, Spain.

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My German Holiday Experience in Spain

Since returning to Germany from my visit back to the United States in April, I have been busy every week with school. I came back from break on April 10, with my classes starting less than a week later on the 16th. If you have read my earlier blog posts regarding my classes, school has been very stressful for me this semester — but it’s also been an opportunity for growth.

I had not had a break from school since it started, and the stress was actually affecting my health and well being. I decided a vacation away from school for a weekend was what I needed to get myself motivated again.

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Tbilisi, Georgia: Women’s Studies Edition

To travel is to dive into the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable. We are left utterly vulnerable when we leave our comfort zones, so I decided to climb slowly down the ladder into the unknown, one rung at a time.

The first rung was studying abroad with the faculty-led program Issues of Gender Identity in Georgia. A city is much less daunting when exploring it with a group of 20 of your newest friends. Together we discovered a city painted in encapsulating murals and graffiti, a culture which survives on live music and wine and foods we will all be dreaming about until the next time we find ourselves in Georgia.

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Walking Through World History

I’m sitting in the airport right now, about to board my plane and go back to the United States in less than an hour. The past 3 weeks don’t even feel real at this point. Did all of that really happen?

Whatever that was, it was the best blur I’ve ever experienced in my entire 21 years of life. I studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, in a music and culture program, mainly focusing on Czech and old Czechoslovakian music and culture. I arrived in the Czech Republic a night before my program started and was hit with different words and accents.

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A World of Differences

I spent 30 days in the wonderful city of London, and the experience has left a permanent mark on me and the way I view the world. This may sound like hyperbole, but rest assured, there is veracity in every ounce of that statement.

When I first arrived back home in San Diego, I was shocked by the immediate differences that I noticed between an American and a Londoner. (Yes, a Londoner and not a European. Most Londoners don’t like to be referred to as Europeans.)

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Studying Abroad in Milan was an A+ Decision

If you’re reading this, do it.  Pull the trigger.  Study abroad.

My message, as a double major in Finance and Economics having been involved in SDSU Greek Life, Associated Students and other organizations and activities, is simple: Going abroad is a great educational, social, and cultural experience. The rewards by far outweigh any concerns, if any, you may have with the Study Abroad process.

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Czech into A New Environment

I was not sure what to expect on my journey, as I would be leaving the United States for the first time. I was especially anxious since I know being American is not always received well by other people in other countries. Many of my friends and family members did not even know where the Czech Republic was.

It turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

Although not as many people smile in Prague as in San Diego, I’ve learned not to take it personally. Luckily, during the time that I have been in this country, I have not experienced a culture shock — but I was not immune to the jet lag. In the time I have spent here thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about the dark and tragic times during and leading up to The Holocaust, explored various places of worship and admired the glorious architecture of this city.

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