The following blog post was written by peer advisors Ellen, a sophomore in GWSB studying international business. You can learn more about Ellen here.
After taking 12 years of Spanish language classes, conversing with my teachers and peers during class just wasn’t enough anymore. I was reading, writing, speaking, and even dreaming in Spanish by the end of my junior year of high school. I read Spanish literature, listened to Latin music, and could converse with native speakers with ease. In one year I was going to begin my education at GW majoring in Business Administration and minoring in Chinese, leaving no room for further pursuit of the Spanish language—but I wasn’t ready to give it up yet, I couldn’t give it up yet. Something was missing.
I knew I had to go abroad. This was the only way I could gain closure on my Spanish experience and head into college with no regrets. I wanted to go to Spain so badly that it hurt, but I had no idea where to start and how I was going to finance the trip. I talked to a classmate who studied in Seville as part of a summer program, and thankfully, she was kind enough to coach me through the application process. I wrote my application essays in Spanish, she edited them, and I earned a partial scholarship. I saved money from my part-time job to finance tuition for the program, and my family picked up the airfare as my high school graduation present. With the support of my friend, teacher, and family, I was able to make my dream a reality—I was finally going to Spain.
Early June was high school graduation, and two weeks later I was on my way to Sevilla, a city in the province of Andalucía in Southern Spain. The journey was my first time flying alone and internationally—and after two layovers (one of which was a 10-minute sprint through the Portuguese airport due to my flight being delayed) and three planes later, I finally arrived in Seville. My time there was unforgettable. I met amazing people, my Spanish improved tenfold, and I experienced a completely different way of life. I couldn’t stop smiling walking along the cobblestone streets, the sweet smell of fresh bread in the air, the sound of accordions in the background, and the sun shining on my skin. I was amazed by the history, architecture, and breathtaking views of Reales Alcázares, the royal palace of ancient Muslim kings, La Giralda, the third largest cathedral in the world, and the legendary Plaza de España. Studying in Seville truly felt like a dream, and provided the perfect ending to my Spanish experience.
The most meaningful part of studying abroad wasn’t the sites, the food, or the language, but how I grew as a person. I took the initiative, sought out the necessary resources, and proved to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to with hard work and the support of my friends and family. By the end of this trip I was a pro traveler and a more confident, knowledgeable, and independent woman. If you are dedicated, you can turn your dreams into reality and live your life with no regrets, but the first step is to believe. And although I dearly miss the Spanish bread, gelato and beautiful buildings, I was excited to come home and share my experiences with my friends and family who helped me get there.