Before I left for this study abroad program, I had a lot of expectations. In an academic sense, I was expecting to take classes that would be interesting and help fulfill my major and general education requirements. Professionally, I hoped to improve my language skills, as to utilize it in my career, as well as, improving my independence skills and my ability to persevere in the face of struggles. Personally, very similarly to my professional goals, I hoped to improve on my language skills for my own love of the Spanish language, as well as, to test myself in uncomfortable or unfamiliar positions to develop more skills. I had a lot of expectations about this trip before I arrived, and I feel as if I accomplished, if not exceeded in a lot of them.
In my academic expectations, I had hoped to take interesting classes that would actually count for something when I returned to Pitt. This expectation was exceeded, completely. At the University of Alcala, I have had some of the most interesting and passionate professors of my entire academic career. They have not only, helped continue my language knowledge, but also, facilitated the knowledge of their subjects. (And everything will transfer!).
In regards to my other goals, my language skills have definitely improved. Immersion is clearly the best way to learn or master a language, but I feel as if I know so much more than before I arrived or even that I imagined I would learn. I am at ease when conversing in Spanish, even though I make mistakes or forget words, I am confident enough now that I can recover and continue on in the conversation. My other personal and professional goals were to improve upon my independence and my ability to persevere in uncomfortable positions, and wow have both of those skills been tested on this experience. I have been tested in my ability to do things on my own as I learned to navigate not only Alcala, but also other cities in Europe by myself. Even when it came to little things, I didn’t know anyone on this trip very well and this experience really tested my ability to do anything and everything by myself. This also lead into my ability to persevere. I had quite a few uncomfortable and really difficult experiences on this trip. It really is a testament to how much I have grown from this experience that I haven’t given up on it.
This experience was hard, and at times I wanted to just leave and go home, but I pushed through and I have never been prouder of myself. I hope the last week of my program continues to exceed my expectations and continues to challenge me.