As fate would have it I ended up only having class twice a week. Around half the normal amount for the typical Spanish university student and even less for an American one. My lucky draw of classes left me with the utmost free time to develop my skills outside of the classroom. These are some of the most prominent soft skills I have expanded on abroad.
In my opinion, the easiest way to gain soft skills abroad has been adaptability since it plays a significant role in the overall study abroad experience. Whether it be navigating the urban environment, acclimatizing to the new academic nuances, or embracing the richness of the unfamiliar Spanish cuisine, having the ability to adjust to the situation has been an essential skill to develop to make the most of my time abroad.
2. Intercultural Communication
Another soft skill that has come easily to me is intercultural communication. I have found that my Spanish minor has prepared me well to feel comfortable conversing with natives in daily activities and even striking up a conversation with willing taxi drivers. However; when it comes to the use of Catalan, one of the three official languages of Catalunya, I tend to go off gestures and overall body language.
Lastly, living abroad can be challenging. Obstacles like FOMO (fear of missing out), cultural differences, and racism have soured a few of my moments abroad, but by facing these challenges I have grown more resilient in the face of adversity.
In terms of hard skills I have gained this semester, the obvious one has been a working proficiency in Spanish and an understanding of basic Catalan. I have also learned a great deal regarding operations management from my course at the University of Barcelona. Additionally, with my newfound time, I have picked up some of my personal Java projects to keep the programming language fresh in my mind.
With this unique mix of soft skills and hard skills, I have even been able to highlight my growth as an international student during interviews for summer internships. Above all this experience has allowed me to develop personally, professionally, and academically into a well-rounded individual who openly accepts change. I plan to make use of these newly developed skills when I return to the University of Pittsburgh to continue my academic journey. I eagerly await what other skills I will obtain in my last two months abroad.