The term “study abroad” can be defined as a program that allows a student to live in a foreign country where they learn about culture and broaden their horizons.
When you read this definition, maybe a place, type of food or stereotype associated with a specific country comes to mind, but it isn’t until you submerge yourself in a new culture that you truly understand how powerful studying abroad is.
It has almost been three months since departing the states for Seville, Spain, a lively city located in the south of the country, and I can honestly say this experience has benefited me in many ways.
Adjusting to a new place, especially one where they speak a foreign language, can be a little intimidating; however, this discomfort can miraculously be eliminated with a little bit of time.
As my first few days passed by, I began to realize how beautiful the city was. One of my professors, Sara, took our program around Seville.
We ultimately reached the river, which is near a large tower named El Torro del Oro, and as I looked out at the setting sun and silhouette of the city, a wave of comfort came over me. Being exposed to a new culture can make one feel out of place, but that was my moment where I felt I belonged and knew I was supposed to be there.
From then on, I have had the opportunity to meet incredible people and make new friends from all over the world. Aside from traveling within Spain, I’ve gone to France, Portugal, Morocco and Gibraltar.
These trips have made me realize how diverse the world is, yet, at the same time, how similar we all are.
During my trip to Morocco, we visited a town located in the mountains, Chefchaouen. A large portion of Chefchaouen is composed of blue buildings tightly packed together. This labyrinth of ocean blue contains many homes and shops.
I remember our tour group walking within the intricate passages of the town and noticing three children peeking around a corner, watching us.
Of course we all were taking pictures, our heads turning back and forth to try to take in as much as possible. In the midst of all this, I couldn’t help but look back to see if they were still watching us.
They followed us on our tour, running to catch up and whispering things to each other. I noticed them looking at us obvious tourists with curiosity and wonder. Who are they?
Where are these people from? Why are they here? But as their widened eyes stared at me with curiosity, I too wondered what these children’s lives were like. Where were their parents?
What does their daily life consist of? What do they aspire to do when they grow up?
The culture in Morocco, quite different from Spain’s culture, amazed me.
Their language, where they live, the types of jobs the people have just to make a living.
Studying abroad isn’t just about riding a camel on the beach or taking a picture next to a famous monument; it’s also about understanding the world better and appreciating what you have.
Looking back on these experiences reinforces the fact that although we all live different lives and in different places, we all share common emotions: love, hope, sadness, fear, happiness. I’ll be forever grateful for these adventures because I feel I have gained so much from them.
If studying abroad is something you’ve thought about, I highly recommend it. Travel, experience, grow, learn and take this opportunity while you can.
The people I’ve had the privilege to get to know, the places I’ve gone and getting to live and study in Seville have all been pieces of my study abroad experience that have made it so special.
Seville feels like home to me now and I would love to someday return. I hope I can influence students at Keene to go abroad because it is truly a remarkable experience.
¡Recrea tu vida!
Margaret Maloy can be contacted at Margaret.Maloy@ksc.keene.edu