Photo courtesy of Caitlyn Oxford
Left my Heart in Burgos, No Spain, Yes Pain
During the fall semester of 2018, I was presented with the opportunity to do something I had always wanted to do – study abroad. I had seen the presentations and heard the spiels but I never really thought I could do it. I always let my financial situation get in the way, but for some reason the last time Spanish professor, Dr. Marrugo came to talk to my class, I was in. I couldn’t get the thought of study abroad off of my mind. I knew I needed the Spanish credits for my degree and I had always wanted to spend extended time in a different country, so I went for it.
I spent four weeks, from June 15th to July 13th, in Burgos, Spain studying Spanish. From the second we landed, I was amazed by Spain and everything that surrounded me. The culture was so different and everyone that was on the trip was just as excited as I was.
We spent our mornings in class and our afternoons and evenings being tourists. Every afternoon and evening we would go to different museums and events around Burgos. On the weekends we would take small day trips to different areas of Spain including Madrid, Bilbao, San Sebastián and Segovia. My favorite trips were to the beach in San Sebastián and to the castle in Segovia.
In San Sebastián we spent the day on the beach enjoying the views, the beautiful weather and the cold water. Spending time with people I had just met was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Their day at the beach, we all had time to sit around and get to know each other better and I cherish that day so much. We spent time playing in the water, laying in the sun and taking tons of pictures before heading home.
In Segovia, we got to see beautiful views and walk through a gorgeous castle. The weather was beautiful, everyone was in a great mood and everything just summed up to be one of the best days on the trip. From the top of the castle you could see all the landscape around us for miles. I was always searching for great views and that day, I found them.
Traveling abroad is definitely a challenge. It is difficult to be away from your family and friends, especially in different time zones, for a month. My biggest challenge was the food. Spanish food is great but it is a lot different from Texas food. They don’t use a lot of spices and they are more focused on meat, cheese and bread than vegetables. While I did enjoy parts of the food, I felt like I was always longing for something else in my meals. However, the coffee and baked goods are incredible. Drinking coffee and eating fresh fruit was one of my favorite daily rituals. I also ate tons of baked goods throughout the trip.
If you are unsure about studying abroad, my advice is to take the chance. Financially, aid is available both through Tarleton and from outside sources. For the Burgos, Spain trip, anyone that signed up and applied for the scholarship got a $1000 scholarship to go towards tuition which helped immensely. I wouldn’t let finances be the thing to stop you from going.
While I loved Spain and I wouldn’t give up the trip for anything, my favorite part was going on the trip without knowing anyone I was going with. I made some of my best lifelong friends while on the Spain trip. We spent everyday together, learning and immersing ourselves in this new culture and we came out of it really close. When you are all struggling and learning together, you can’t help but lean on each other for assistance and that brings you so close together. I still speak to those friends regularly and they are the biggest blessing for me.
Other than that, I learned so much in Spain. I can now understand Spanish on a level I never could before and I can hold simple conversations with ease. I also gained so much independence and proved to myself how much I can do on my own. Spain also reminded me how much I love traveling and how I will never let that part of myself go. I have such a desire to see the world. Spain put my soul at ease in a way that I cannot describe with words. My biggest takeaway from my study abroad trip was: When scary opportunities arise and you are unsure, take them. I learned so much about myself on this trip and I would not trade that for anything in the world. I know I will go back to Burgos someday to experience everything there is to experience there and you should too.