Study Abroad: Notes from Spain
Reflections from Home: Looking Back on Spain
by Dani Schneider '09
Even though it was really hard to say goodbye to Spain, it was great getting to see all my family and friends again. Now that I am finally home, I have just enough time to catch up with everyone and repack before I get to come back to Catawba for field hockey preseason.
After recovering from the time changes and jet lag, I had some time to reflect on all the wonderful things I had experienced over the last six weeks. Whenever you come home from a trip everyone always asks about your favorites. After struggling with this question I came up with the simple answer — all of Spain, all six weeks of it.
My goal was to have fun, see all that Spain had to offer, and to practice my Spanish; and that is exactly what I did. In six weeks, I traveled 15 different cities and experienced the highlights of Spanish culture: bullfighting, flamenco, fiestas, siestas, Spanish tortillas, sangria, museums, cathedrals, synagogues, and mosques. There are very few things that I would change about my trip.
We (Lauren Ebersole of Hagerstown, Md., Emily Hoffman of Tampa, Fla., Kathleen Blake of Greensboro, N.C., and I) were very fortunate during our two weeks of backpacking. A lot of the credit goes to Emily since she booked all of our hostels and speaks the best Spanish out of the group. Hostelworld.com is a great resource for anyone looking to use hostels. Other resources we couldn't have gone without were our travel guides. We relied on Rick Steves for the most part, but The Rough Guide and Lonely Plant were very helpful in filling in the gaps that Rick Steves left.
I was also very pleased with my homestay experience and glad that I did have the opportunity to live with a family rather than in apartment or dorm. Living with a family helped me to really experience Spanish culture. It forced me to eat and try Spanish foods, live a typical Spanish lifestyle, and practice Spanish outside the classroom.
Even now as I'm writing about this trip it still seems like a dream; not only Spain, but college in general. The people I have met and the relationships I have made as a result of being a part of the Catawba family are countless. If someone were to tell me that at 20 years old I would have already traveled Spain and Italy (last May with Catawba), I would have never believed them. Even though I didn't realize it at the time, my previous Catawba experiences have been preparing me for this trip all along. Besides the obvious preparation in my Spanish classes, the trip last summer to Italy was helpful as well. Even though it was a totally different trip, I think that if this (Spain) had been my first trip abroad I would have been a bit overwhelmed. After two exciting years at Catawba, the trip of a lifetime and two more years of college to go, my only questions is "What's next?"
I would highly recommend to anyone considering studying abroad to do it, no matter where you go or what you study. You can find your own program or sign up for one of Catawba's programs to England or Costa Rica. I promise, it's an experience that you will remember and cherish forever.
Thanks so much to everyone who wrote to me while I was abroad. It was so nice hearing from you all and I can't wait to see everyone back at Catawba! Of course, I couldn't possibly share all of my pictures and adventures through my blog so if you are interested in more I would be more than happy to share more. I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my adventures as much as I have enjoyed sharing them with you. Thanks for reading!!
Dani welcomes e-mail correspondence from current and prospective members of Catawba's community and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.