Rachel Wadsworth is a student at the College of Charleston and an ISA Featured Blogger. Rachel is currently studying abroad in Valencia, Spain on an ISA Year 1 program.
So, this is it…well, for most of us. The semester is winding down, final exams are upon us, and everyone is packing up to head back to the states. I, however, have a whole semester left here in Valencia. When I left Newark Airport on September 7th, I had a moment of panic–I must be crazy, I thought. Eight months in a foreign country? Well, I still have the occasional have-you-lost-your-mind moment, but Valencia is home now. I chose the academic year program so that I could (mostly) complete my Spanish major, improve my language skills, and have an authentic Spanish experience. But in just three and a half months I have gotten so much more than that.
I have had the opportunity to take some interesting classes taught by professors who are really passionate about what they teach. The University of Valencia is a great place to study. I live with an awesome host family who cares for me endlessly. I’ve made amazing friends that have truly become my family. I’ve gone swimming in the Mediterranean, whitewater rafting in the mountains of Montanejos, and even driven a horse-drawn carriage at a barraca. I’ve been to eight cities, including Paris and London. I’ve most certainly caught the travel bug!
I’m really looking forward to the spring semester. I’m excited to meet my new compañeros, and to watch them fall in love with Valencia the same way I did. Studying abroad isn’t all easy, though. My friend studied abroad last year, and he gave me a piece of advice that I would like to pass on: Don’t say no to anything. Studying abroad is all about learning and growing, and the best way to do that is to experience things. There’s the ‘big things’, like traveling to London and cliff jumping; but there’s also the small things, like giving/receiving directions in Spanish, mistakenly asking for jamon instead of jabon in the grocery store (that’s ham vs. soap, for all of you non-Spanish speakers) and trying paella for the first time. So, my future study-abroad-er: just try it! I guarantee you’ll like just about everything you do, and if you don’t like it, then it will at least make for a good story. As for myself, I’m going to continue to follow that advice and make the very most of my last few months in Valencia.
So I was looking through blogs to find something to read, and I found the ISA blog, which led me here. I was actually part of ISA Valencia 3 years ago. I stayed for a whole year, saw a lot of neat things, and met my girlfriend of three years, all in one year! It was an amazing experience that has truly changed my life.
In fact, I’m headed back to Valencia in about three weeks. If you’re still there right now, tell Manuel and Raquel I said hello!