UMD: A Globally Connected University

Kaya Benitez

Kaya Benitez

ProgramMaryland-in-Barcelona | UMD-Winter:Cuba (SPAN/LASC)
Term: Spring 2019 and Winterterm 2020
Major: English & Spanish 

I learned that although cultures and customs vary immensely across the world, we are all very similar in actuality and it's a beautiful thing to find commonalities with people who share such different backgrounds from you. Through my study abroad, I learned to trust myself more and more about my inherent versatility. I was able to reconnect with friends who live in Portugal and Paris and also had the amazing opportunity to become close friends with individuals who live in Brazil and Egypt. I feel confident that I can make friends anywhere in the world and also hope to live outside the U.S. for a couple years at some point in my life.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: As a black and Puerto Rican woman, I know that it can be discouraging to think about traveling to areas where you don't anticipate seeing people who look like you. Although I was the only black girl in my program in Barcelona and that intimidated me at first, I was able to meet great people and find comfort in my surroundings. You can too!

One of my most memorable experiences abroad was traveling in Greece after my study abroad in Barcelona had ended. Two friends and I had planned on traveling to Santorini, Athens, and then Mykonos. We ended up falling in love with Santorini and cancelled our airbnb/flights to Athens just so that we could stay longer. We lost money but I'll never forget my time in Santorini. We concluded our trip in Mykonos and it was gorgeous.

Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: I would advise everyone to make Study Abroad a priority. In my opinion, it should be required by Universities. Nothing gives you a brighter perspective like an experience in an entirely new environment. If you get the opportunity to study abroad, (even if you cannot coordinate going with friends) I would suggest that you do everything in your power to make it happen!

The hardest part about study abroad was maintaining a healthy living environment. Living with people I probably would have never had the opportunity to interact with on campus was different. However, we all compromised to make the living environment one that was enjoyable for everyone.



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