Study Abroad Reflection

on
Pura Vida – my favorite rooftop bar

I wasn’t expecting to be writing this post so early on. There were so many more things I wanted to share in my posts about living in Seville, traveling everything, and the best ways to get places. Instead, exactly one month ago I got on a flight to return to the US from Seville. Just one week before that, it never occurred to nay of us that we could possibly be getting sent home. Italy was really bad at this point and all those students had left. Spain had about 50 cases, with only 1 in Southern Spain. I was eating dinner with my host mom and roommate when I got the email on my watch (could not have been worse timing). I immediately called my best friend in Seville in tears telling her I was getting sent home. Even though she was not the one being sent home, it was super difficult for her as well because we would spend so much time together and had a lot of travel plans for the semester. I then texted my program friends who were all shocked. Then I finally called my parents to book me a flight. This and the next few days were easily the saddest days of my life. I was the first person at my entire abroad university to be sent home and we still only had one case in the area. Not only was I sad to leave but there was no course of action on how I was going to finish the semester. My university was not offering online classes because I’m the only person that left. There was no way I was going to do an extra semester at Pitt and graduate late so I would have had to drop my second major if worse came to worse. Also prior to leaving we already knew that people in the US were freaking out about Coronavirus. So just because I was leaving Spain, did not mean I was escaping it in any way. I knew these next few weeks were going to be awful.

One of the skills I always thought I had but really think I proved over this time was adaptability. I was abruptly ripped out of Spain after the best month of my life and told I needed to go back home, not even to Pitt where my friends were. I knew I needed to tell my parents immediately or else I never would have booked a flight. I had about a week to be sad, and then I had to move on and figure out how I was going to finish the semester, get money back for flights, and basically move on with my life while all my friends were still enjoying themselves in Seville. I reached out to everyone I could at my abroad university, at Pitt, etc asking what my options were. Turns out they didn’t have any options, they were just waiting for everyone else to get sent home so that the abroad school would put classes online. Once the school was finally put online, I had missed about a week and a half. As I said before, the timing could not have been worse, because I entirely missed midterms week. I needed to catch up on a lot of work and talk to all my professors about making up the exams and papers. Just this past week I finally made up all that work, which included taking exams on the weekend, redoing one exam because the professor put the settings in wrong online, and writing a 10 page paper in a day. I had to adapt to my new “classroom” aka the guest bedroom in my house in NJ and overcome all the sadness I was feeling to continue with my education and bettering my future. Considering the circumstances I think I adapted very quickly and well. I’m proud of myself for not giving up when it seemed like everything was falling apart around me and instead focusing my energy on my academic goals.

Looking back on my time in Spain, it is really difficult for me to pinpoint any challenges I faced prior to Covid-19. I really made an awesome group of friends, we got along incredibly well, I had a great roommate, interesting classes, lots of traveling plans, overall everything was running smoothly. Of course there were certain days where for example, my host mom would make a meal I really did not like, or I’d have a bad day and think this would never happen at home; overall there were no big challenges. I was able to adjust very quickly, I think because I wasn’t just thrown into everything at once. First I started in Madrid where I adjusted to the time change, meals, etc. Then a few days later I was moved into my homestay where I adjusted to living with a family. I have ISA to thank for that, they made that process a lot easier.

There are a lot of things I never got to do and see like I planned over the next few months. Luckily, I’ll have future opportunities to go back even though if I won’t ever get to live there again. I am really glad I got to spend the month and a half that I did there, and I would not trade it for anything. For anyone who has any desire to go abroad whatsoever, do it.