I am currently writing this while on my way to Madrid! My program ended two days ago because UPF does trimesters rather than semesters and so now I’m off to see my host family from this summer (I participated in IIP) and I am bursting with excitement! It has been a good while since I last wrote to y’all so let me update you really quick on the last three weeks of my program.
Firstly, I went on a five-day trip to Morocco with 12 of my friends at the beginning of March and it was definitely the best way to start off the month! The whole adventure kind of felt like a school field trip because a lot of the time we were driving around in a van just playing games, giving each other ethical dilemmas, sleeping, and obviously jamming to some bops! We started in Marrakesh and then the next day we drove through the mountains and ended by staying in hotel in the mountain side. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. The next day we drove into the Sahara Desert (with a few stops along the way) and once we got there, we rode camels up the dunes to watch the sunset. I just kept looking around thinking “Wow. This is really my life.” From there we spent the night in tents in the desert and got to sit and listen to traditional Moroccan drums under the stars. The next morning, I got to ride on the top of a pick-up truck to leave the desert and that was just a moment of pure fun (a little scary, but fun, nonetheless). From there we drove almost 12 hours back to the city. This was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken and a large part of that was just because I got to learn a lot about my friends, and it really bonded us together.
Last weekend was one of my favorites out of my three months here though because my friends and I spent the day together at the beach. First, I took a nap when I got there. Then, we got invited to play volleyball with strangers which was a blast. And then I finally hoped in the Mediterranean Sea and while yes, it was freezing, it was so worth it! I felt like I couldn’t have been in Barcelona for three months and not dive in. It was such a peaceful day and it made me feel like a kid again.
While this trip has been filled with a lot of silly moments, I have also had moments that allowed me to grow and learn more about how to effectively interact with people. For example, I have become a lot more adaptable and gained experience working on a team with people from other cultures. The school grading system at UPF is very different from what I am used to, and my business courses were also structured differently. My study habits had to change due to these factors and my time management skills were also challenged because rather than having homework each week and studying/testing myself through those assignments, I had to really set aside time to study and learn what to study because my grade was predominately exams. For one of my classes I was on a team for simulations and two large assignments. This was a good experience for me because I learned what type of communication team members use in Spain, how members typically express their expectations for the project, and how serious deadlines are. I also believe that my analytical skills and language skills improved. Each week for both of business courses, I had to read a Harvard business study and then during seminars we would apply them to the strategic model we learned in lecture. This format really pushed me to think outside the box and apply knowledge to real life scenarios. Unfortunately, my Spanish skills did not improve as much as I hoped they would because all my classes were in English, and my friends and I spoke English to each other. However, I believe that my language skills still improved because a lot of my classmates and friends had different first languages, so I really had to think before I spoke in English (either to not use slang words or speaking slower so they can fully understand me). Overall, studying in Spain was a great experience for both my personal and professional life!
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