UMD: A Globally Connected University

Nicole Skorvanek

Program: Maryland-in-Barcelona 
Term: Spring 2018
Major: Supply Chain Management 

Studying abroad taught me how to be independent and open to new experiences. For the first time in my life, I learned how to manage being completely on my own, especially in a foreign country thousands of miles away from my family. I was forced to seek out new opportunities on my own and manage my resources to last me for the rest of my stay here. I learned how to overcome obstacles, like the massive language barrier between the locals and I, and how to navigate my way through new situations. I learned to be confident in myself and communicate in ways I didn't know I was capable of. I made new friends in my program outside of my smaller network of friends at the College Park campus and I met countless people from all over the world. Every interaction that I had brought a new perspective to my collection of thoughts and observations. All in all, [studying] abroad opened my eyes to all the possible ways I can live my life and guided me toward a legacy I want to leave - one that has experienced many cultures and is capable of loving each interaction and discovery.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: ​As someone who new from early on thay I would eventually have the opportunity to study abroad, I advise anyone else with a secure opportunity to absolutely take advantage of it. Studying abroad and traveling from country to country has been the most special and memorable time of my life. Learning from each culture has shaped a new perspective of life for me. I am more appreciative than ever for everything I have and for all the opportunities that exist for me. Say yes to every opportunity, within reason. That has been my motto for my time abroad. If you have the resources to do it, do it. You most likely will never have the chance to live this freely ever again. Be safe and take caution, but don't limit yourself on any experience. Learn to not have regrets, but instead make observations to do things differently in the future. Love yourself and your surroundings because with a positive perspective comes positive experiences and memories and those will carry with you for the rest of your life. Take lots of pictures and videos, write things down, keep souvenirs, etc. because the time FLIES and it might be harder to recall than you anticipate. There is nothing better than sitting down and looking at my pictures, playing my videos, and reliving my memories. Work hard [during] the months leading up to your departure because resources run out fast and, trust me, you're not going to want to have to say no to anything once you're here. 

Meeting new people who speak fluent English and are aware of the current politics and culture [of the United] States, [while also meeting other people] who have never left their hometown or country, is one of the most enlightening interactions you can encounter. It is the liberating feeling from living a day in the life of someone elsefrom a new culture that drove me to keep traveling and learning about the people and cultures of countries nearby and far. Though sometimes scary and intimidating, being in a foreign location gives me an adrenaline rush to immerse myself further into the everyday lives of the people who live here. Learning about the history of different countries adds a new perspective to understanding current events and [standards] all over the world. The interactions I had with locals and the thrill of walking down a road and stumbling upon hidden beauties, and the views and buildings that I thought of as treasures but which locals thought of as ordinary, is what urged me to continue my journey. 

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: If you have never heard of study abroad programs before or don't know much about it, look at the program details, read more of these student profiles, and GET EXCITED! If you think traveling and studying abroad might not be for you, dig a little deeper because I personally think everyone has the passion somewhere. You don't have to know anyone. You just have to be open-minded to new people, new destinations, and new experiences. You'll find that everyone is kind and looks out for each other. Whether you want to travel alone and be super independent or make your time abroad all about the people you're with, there's a place for you. Your time [abroad] is completely what you make it and no one can limit that. [Some study abroad programs] offer free events and trips, so even if you don't travel much you will learn about the culture and feel part of it soon enough. ​

While this may seem expected, budgeting my money and resources was much more difficult than I anticipated. Of course if you're spending the next four months traveling throughout Europe, you're going to expect to spend too much money and not have access to everything you need. However, I didn't know how to go about budgeting until I was about a month deep into my stay here and almost out of money! Before you go, make a budget. Look up some flights to and from destinations you want to travel to. Look up airbnb's, hostels, hotels, etc. Put down any rough estimates you can find and think of. When you first arrive, you might end up booking all your travel weekends within the first few weeks so be prepared! Think of all the things you probably won't be able to buy in your study abroad country (brand name makeups, certain shampoos, etc). Think about certain backpacks and bags you should bring to avoid being a prime target for a pick-pocketer. Pack wisely and plan wisely. When I first [arrived in Spain] we booked EVERYTHING in the first few weeks and I went through a good 75% of my money and freaked out. I planned how I'd spend the rest of my money and it worked out fine, but I wish I was more prepared to drop everything in my bank account early on. Take this advice seriously.