Guest Blog: Goodbye USA, Hola España!

Shaheena Ramzan is a student at University of Texas – Dallas and an ISA Guest Blogger. Shaheena is currently studying abroad in Barcelona on a Fall 2 program.

Mount Tibidabo – Barcelona view from atop

I can’t believe it has already been a month in Spain! Time flies when you’re having the time of your life! It feels like it was just yesterday when I got my acceptance email and couldn’t believe my eyes. The next thing I knew, I was busy packing while finishing up summer classes and working. Before I knew it, it was time to say “Goodbye Dallas, Hola España!” – a phrase I had only dreamed of saying. I tried to imagine what life would be like when I arrived in Spain. I read almost every article I could about it, but it felt like I might not be prepared.

Some friends and I outside of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

My journey began as I boarded the plane in Dallas as this was my first time leaving home for a long time. The longest I had been away from home was for a few days and only few hours away at that. But this time, I was going away for a long time – away from my home, my family, friends: my comfort zone. But I knew that as scary as it might be, it would be worth it and I would have to be brave and open myself up to the world to experience everything. As I departed Dallas, all I hoped for was that I find someone from my program at the Miami airport, which is where my connecting flight was. As I sat there for the next few hours, I saw a girl that looked my age, and mustered up the courage to ask her if she was part of my study abroad program and although she was going with ISA, she was going to be studying in Sevilla instead of Barcelona. The two of us spent the next couple of hours getting to know each other and talked about what Spain would be like and hoped that it would be worth the experience. Finally, it was time to board our plane to Madrid. It was FINALLY time to say my goodbye to the States and in a few hours say hola to España.

Holy Toledo!

As tiring as the first few days in Spain were, they were ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! I arrived in Madrid and met my program directors and the other ISA students. As my new friend and I tried to find the luggage claim area, I met Olivia, who turned out to be in my Barcelona program, and we instantly became friends. We started settling in and that afternoon I finally got to meet my roommate, Nathalie, who I had been in touch with via email over the summer. The first few of days were spent touring the capital of España, Madrid and Toledo, Spain’s oldest city. Toledo caught my eye. It was one of the smallest cities I had ever seen. Everything was so cramped and small, yet it looked so beautiful.

Sunday, September 2, 2012 arrived, and it was time to head to Barcelona and meet our host families. After about a 9 hour bus ride, we could all at last say “Hola Barcelona!” I couldn’t believe it. I WAS FINALLY HERE. After meeting our host families and settling in, we had a long week ahead of us. That very first weekend, I got to see La Sagrada Familia with my friends. It was one of the most beautiful buildings I had ever seen. The amount of intricacy that was put into the building was absolutely mind boggling. I had to ask my friend to pinch me to see if it was all real. Most incredibly, I got to see my best friend, Nur Kara, at Las Ramblas, one of the busiest and crowded streets in Barcelona.

Seeing La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, Picasso Museum, Mount Tibidabo (breathtaking view of the city) and the Barcelona beach was only the beginning. The next three and a half months are sure to bring a lot more adventures! Until next time, adios!

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