Welcome back everyone! I say “back” because this past summer, I participated in the Madrid International Internship Program, so I am very excited to be back in Spain, writing another series of blog posts for you all!

I am Saoirse Hopp, a Junior majoring in Supply Chain Management and Business Information Systems with a Certificate in Business Analytics. I am currently studying at Universidad Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona as an exchange student and to say the least… I am NOT regretting returning to Spain! I decided to participate in this program because, while it sounds cheesy, I really felt that I found a second home in Madrid and figured that if I could return, but explore another part of this amazing country, why not! I also wanted to continue building my Spanish abilities, growing my sense of independence, and gain a greater understanding of international business, as I aspire to work abroad after graduation. My main goal for this program is to become fluent in Spanish. After Madrid, my understanding increased ten-fold, but I wouldn’t say I am fluent just yet, so I am very thrilled to be able to continue fine tuning those skills with native speakers. My other main goal of the trip is to find a community. Whether that be having a solid group of friends who I can lean on when feeling homesick, participating in local events and through those meeting people with similar interests as me, or even just exploring new places in Barcelona that make me feel safe and welcomed. Really, at the end of the day, I just want to feel like I could be a Barcelona tour-guide and hype-girl by the time that I leave. And honestly, it already is starting to feel that way.  

I am currently a month into my program, so I am happy to announce that my adjustment period is over! The culture in Spain is very different than the US. For example, people eat dinner around 9pm, you should only wear athleisure to workout, walking 30 minutes to your destination rather than taking the metro is common and somehow not seen as tiring, and grades at university are based heavily on exams rather than your overall experience (such as homework, quizzes, participation, etc). While all these things took a little time to get used to, the main thing I stressed over when I first arrived was making friends. A lot of other students knew people from their university, so it was a little challenging to feel completely welcomed at orientation. I used this as motivation, however, and pushed myself to sit by new people in class, strike up conversations whenever possible, sign up for Erasmus trips, and invite everyone to everything. By doing this, I quickly found people that continuously make my heart smile and the more time I spend with them exploring the city, the more Barcelona feels like home away from home.

Until next week…

Saoirse Hopp