I studied abroad in Spain, which I thought was the best option for me as a Global Studies and a Spanish minor.
I am a native Spanish speaker from Latin America, but have always wanted to learn the original Castilian Spanish from Spain. I chose SUNY Oswego’s program in Barcelona for the spring of 2016 mainly because of the location. I had previously traveled to Barcelona and since then it held, and still holds, a special place in my heart. The program also partnered with Global Exchanges – an abroad internship program – for the first time that semester, so I was also able to do a part-time public relations internship with a major international PR company. Before deciding to study abroad, I had no idea what to expect.
I perceived study abroad to be academically just as time consuming as here in Binghamton. For my program, the classes were of course taken seriously, but were more entertaining than I expected and most of the work was done in class. The purpose of this was to have the ability to take some time after class to familiarize ourselves with city we were so fortunate to be living in. What surprised me the most was that I never stopped learning. In other words, the learning is not just done in the classrooms. Instead, as you travel, discover, and venture, you are learning about the world, yourself, and meeting new and different people. With that said, my biggest challenge was finding time to do everything I wanted to see and do. There was always something in my extensive list, but I learned to compromise and prioritize. I was easily able to make friends within my study abroad program who had similar travel interests as I, therefore I had to learn to compromise not just with myself but with the groups I traveled with about where we wanted to go and experience. Traveling with people you have known for a few weeks or months definitely helps one to learn to interact, communicate, organize, and socialize in groups.
Professionally and academically, my experience in Barcelona was exactly what I needed. I greatly advanced in both my majors in a way that could have not been done in Binghamton. For example, my Spanish classes abroad were taught differently. More Spanish was spoken, and we were fewer students. In the end, the professors were our friends who took us on interesting and educative field trips around the city. Plus, they were a fountain of information about the local Barcelona life who gave us great insights into their culture. My internship also allowed me to experience a different office culture. I sat at a shared desk with a fellow intern, there were no cubicles, and the communication was very open. Moreover, doing the internship abroad has already benefited me upon my return. At the Job & Internship fair, several companies took interest in my internship based on the company name but more importantly because I interned abroad.
As a current Education Abroad Student Ambassador, I continuously encourage students to go abroad. It shows you a new way of endless learning, you form new relationships, you learn to interact with those who are different from you, and more importantly, you grow spiritually/emotionally every day without noticing until you return.
Florencia Garmonal, an Education Abroad Ambassador, who studied abroad in Spain in Spring 2016