UMD: A Globally Connected University

Jacob Karl

ProgramMaryland-in-Barcelona​
Term: Spring 2017

Studying abroad was the best experience of my life. Even though I was looking forward to it since I was a freshman, I was still pushed out of my comfort zone and grew a lot from the experience. I met so many new people from fellow study abroad students, the teachers and staff at UAB, and from the locals as well. I was a beginner when it came to speaking Spanish, but I really tried to pick it up and tried using it as frequently as possible. It was the best 4 months of my life and I was exposed to so many different cultures, which gave me memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Advice for #TerpsAbroad: Know who you are, but at the same time be open-minded. If you go abroad being narrow-minded and not being open to new things, you're basically wasting your [time spent]. Learning and indulging in a completely new culture was one of the most enlightening opportunities I have had in my life. You're going to feel out of place living in a new country [during the experience], but the more you put yourself out there and try to engage with the locals, the more they will appreciate you and not think of you as some tourist. It might feel weird at first, but the locals have some great stories and they want to hear your story just as well. 

Every day was a new and exciting adventure, and there was also something new to do or try so it was impossible to get stuck in routine like you might back at home. I never wanted to stay home and hang out (probably because we lived in a closet). [Instead] I was always trying to get people together to go play volleyball on the beach or try a new restaurant in a neighborhood we haven't been to yet...or asking our taxi driver what their go-to place was. Almost every time, a stranger would ask to play volleyball with us and we would hear about their story and where they were from (if they spoke English). The possibilities were endless and we never knew what each day would bring. This was my favorite part about studying in Barcelona.

Advice for #TerpsAbroad: I think the hardest part was realizing that life back at home still goes on even though you're away. Make sure to stay in contact with your family and friends back at home. Even though they may act annoyed because you keep telling them of your amazing stories, they secretly enjoy it, and would rather talk to you about that than not at all. Sometimes you're going to wish you were home, but as long as you make new friends abroad, you won't miss it as much. [The time] is going to fly by and before you know it you're going to be back home, day dreaming about your time abroad.