Whenever I think back on going abroad to Bilbao, I always come to the conclusion that I wish I had had more time there. It was a truly amazing and unique experience, but I feel like I was just starting to really adjust when it was time for us to leave. Studying abroad is a learning, eye-opening, surprising, fun, and sometimes frustrating experience. I learned a lot over the five weeks about myself, and also improved my Spanish communication skills in the process. I am much less intimidated when speaking Spanish to others now. I am so happy about my decision to live with a host mom instead of in the dorms. It felt so comfortable and we quickly fell into a good routine with each other. Initially, being in another country was overwhelming. I was tentative to go out of my comfort zone for a little too long (consisting of Getxo and Deusto).

After about three weeks, I felt much more adjusted and enjoyed being able to navigate certain parts of the city on my own. Even though I complained a lot about not being able to use the Internet and calling or texting on my iPhone, I think that it actually enhanced my experience a lot. Without the distraction of my phone while walking around, I was forced to constantly pay attention to where I was and how to get to certain places. I could really take in the culture and everyday life of the city since I wasn’t just walking around staring at my phone.

Although I wish that I could have spent more than just five weeks in the Basque Country, I really enjoyed the amount of traveling that we got to do through CIDE. Excursions were exhausting and sometimes felt a little bit like high school because of the size of our group, but they were all interesting and different. I took so many pictures of every place we visited, but I explain to everyone who sees them that they don’t do the country justice.

I feel much more confident in my abilities to take care of myself and travel independently after my time in Spain. Being thrust into a new country, having no cell phone access, and becoming familiar with a new culture is a lot to handle, but it forces you to adjust quickly. I definitely learned the importance of having patience with people from other countries and cultures who speak different languages than your own. I realized how difficult it is to be a foreigner. I now have a great appreciation for the efforts of people who move to the United States and work hard to become a part of my culture. Because I had never traveled out of the country before this, I could not really wrap my head around how truly huge and diverse the world is. I am so grateful for this amazing learning experience, and plan on traveling back to Spain (and hopefully to other countries) in the future.