A Glimpse of Life in Spain

This was the beach a short distance from my apartment, where I would go to watch the sunset and swim. The Mediterranean Sea was beautiful and warm, even at night. You could also find people hanging out on the beach with family and friends at all hours of the night.

This is the view from a rooftop restaurant where I would eat with my friends. The Gothic Quarter in Barcelona was my favorite part of the city because of the narrow cobblestone streets and cathedrals on every corner. Samsung’s choice of advertisement placement was also very interesting.

My friend and I enjoy the view from a popular hill in the city. This was the perfect spot for picnics and sunsets where you could see the whole city of Barcelona.

This is a “Castell,” or human tower, in a town near Barcelona. This is a Catalan tradition in which different teams compete or simply perform their different towers. People of all ages participate in this tradition, even young children who are the ones who climb to the very top.

My Experience

Ever since I was young, I knew that I wanted to study abroad while in college. I always thought it would be an amazing opportunity to live in a foreign country and experience a new culture. I made the decision to apply for a Spanish language program in Barcelona, Spain, for the summer of 2022, despite having no way to pay for the trip. I was too excited about living out my dream of studying abroad, and I did not think much about the price. When I got accepted into the program, I was ecstatic. However, the realization of not being able to afford the trip cast a shadow on my enthusiasm. Determined to go on this trip, I began applying for any study abroad scholarship I could find. During this time, I stumbled upon an email promoting the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, and I hesitantly sent in my application. It was clear that the Gilman Scholarship was competitive, and I did not have much expectation of receiving it. After weeks of rejection letters from different scholarship committees, I began to lose hope, and my dream of studying abroad seemed to be slipping away. One afternoon, I felt exceptionally hopeless about the whole situation when I saw an email pop up from the Gilman organization. I held my breath as I logged into my account to see the status. An instant wave of relief and joy ran through me. I immediately called my mother and excitedly told her I had been awarded the Gilman scholarship, which covered nearly all of my study abroad trip! I will never forget the feeling of that day. I am forever grateful to the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and its dedication to students who want to study abroad but do not have the financial resources. This award has inspired me to share with every student that traveling and learning are possible for everyone, no matter what your bank account looks like. Thanks to the support of the Gilman organization and their faith in me, I was able to have the best experience of my life in Spain!

Of course, I was nervous as I packed for my five weeks abroad, even more so as I boarded the plane. Doubts and fears rushed through me. Will I hate it there? Will I be alone? Will I even meet anyone? I was not very confident in my Spanish, and I was extremely afraid of living in a foreign country without my friends or family. I had heard of other people studying abroad, but you often only hear the good parts. I had no idea if other students felt the same way as me. However, the second I met the other people in my program, my nerves began to subside. Having a group of only ten other students there, we all instantly became best friends. Despite our extreme differences and being from all over the United States, we all loved being together because we knew that everyone was out of their comfort zone. My friends and I explored the city together, tried new foods, traveled to different towns, and stumbled through our Spanish together. I had never felt so close to a group of people so quickly, but we bonded so much because everything we did, we did together.

There were ups and downs of attending a school where none of my professors spoke English or the culture shock of an urban city in Europe. Yet, I fell in love with Barcelona. I loved their transportation system, how safe the city was, the cobblestone alleys, and endless tapas bars. I tried the best food of my life and swam in the warm Mediterranean Sea almost every day. I even became friends with my professors and classmates, which added to the difficulty of saying goodbye to Barcelona. Even though I came to Spain reassuring myself that it was only five weeks, I left Barcelona devastated that I couldn’t stay for the rest of the year. I made amazing relationships and memories in such a short amount of time, and I am so grateful for this opportunity. I want to encourage anyone and everyone to step outside of their comfort zone, even if it is scary sometimes. For me, this whole experience was possible because of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Therefore, I want to share with others about this resource and show students that this incredible trip can become a reality for them too. 

About the Author

Kristan Krull is a senior at SDSU majoring in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. She is from San Luis Obispo, California, and loves to hike, swim, and travel. Kristan plans to graduate in December 2022 and begin graduate school in Fall 2023 to pursue a career as a Therapist. 

Everything I Won’t Miss About Studying Abroad

As I write this on my final flight back to the U.K. from Berlin, I can’t help but reflect on all the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met these past few months of being abroad. I’m blessed to have a group of women here who share the same love for knowledge, adventure and (most importantly) incredible food as me. I now have friends from the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark and Australia. I only hope they’ve grown from me half as much as I’ve grown from them.

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Weihnachtsmärkte in Deutschland (Christmas Markets in Germany)

My first actual winter, what a cool experience! (see what I did there? 😉 )

Christmas is just around the corner and it is getting cold here with snow falling pretty often. But throughout the country of Germany, there are many towns that host a Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt). They are unlike anything I’ve seen in the U.S.

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Studying Abroad: Travel Edition

What are weekends for? When you’re in Europe, the best way to spend a weekend is in another country! This past weekend we took a flight to Italy and visited the city of Florence. It was an absolutely incredible experience and worth every minute. For the next four weekends I will be packing my bags and visiting a different country each weekend. With that in mind I thought I’d share some insights and tips I have gained to help anyone who is planning on studying abroad.

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No, I Don’t Mean Australia … I mean Austria!

Over the weekend, I traveled to arguably one of my favorite places in Europe: Vienna, Austria. Austria is a German speaking country in central Europe that is known for its lovely café culture, being the center of many art movements, and being home to classical music and picturesque mountain ranges. However, as a newcomer to this land of mountains, I had no idea what really set it apart from Germany, which is also home to some of these things. Turns out, Austria is more than the Canada to Germany’s United States.

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Experiencing Elections Abroad

Last year, the United States had an election — for better or for worse. It was quite an emotional time and it occupied every facet of our lives for a year. During the last fall semester, I had made friends with exchange students from Germany and they were quite surprised at how prevalent the election was in the media and on campus. (They would later do a road trip to the inauguration).  Now it was my turn to see a foreign election, but in Europe!

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A Change of Pace

It’s been a month since I first packed up the necessities of my life and traveled across the country to live in an unfamiliar place. To me, college has made me realize that home really isn’t about the place I grew up or the feeling of familiarity I get when I walk into my room. To me, home is more the feeling of comfort I get when I am with the people who are part of my life. So when I first arrived in Spain, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find that here.

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