Kimberly Rabeiro is a CISabroad Alumni Ambassador who interned in Barcelona, Spain for nine weeks. Kimberly is a student at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania. Follow her as she says goodbye to one of her favorite places in the world…for now.
Interning abroad for nine weeks was probably one of the best decisions of my life thus far. Spending time away in an entirely new culture, a language barrier, and different people really gave me the time to reflect on myself. I had the time to see what I truly want in the future and how to be happy with the simplest of things. I have met so many incredible people, each with a different background, a different story — people that I can relate to on all different levels. Some people made me see life in a better way, and others were fun to hangout with and create new memories. I made relationships that I know I will continue to have for the future. I also think I grew as an individual. I always prided myself on getting good grades, but I learned so much more the classroom couldn’t teach me. I learned to step back and just observe. For the first week I simply watched other locals and figured out for myself how to use the metro, how to dress for work, how to greet others, and so many simply basic things that people of different cultures easily overlook. I was welcomed into a home stay with open arms. They have become my second family, and I could not have asked for a more sincere, caring and loving family to accept me as one of their own. My job welcomed me with open arms, never hesitating to help me with the simple tasks of working the coffee maker or helping me better understand a task due to the language barrier. The entire nine weeks I was completely surrounded by people who genuinely cared about how I was feeling, how I have been spending my weekends, and who just wanted to know all about me. I also learned so much about others and how many people had family in other countries from all over the world with entirely different backgrounds.
It was so fun to spend my internship abroad instead of working at a local company for the summer. I learned so much more than I initially thought I would. If I could do it all over again, I would spend even more time in Barcelona. Nine weeks went by way too fast, and I loved meeting all the new faces that quickly became acquaintances and even friends.
Fulling emerging myself into something so new was definitely a struggle for me at first. But from being abroad I believe I genuinely have become a better person. Take into consideration the smaller things in life, and how building relationships with genuine people can honestly change your life for the better…I know it did mine.
Here I’ll leave a list of advice for anyone wanting/hesitating to study or intern abroad:
- GO BY YOURSELF
This to me is so important. At first I really wanted someone to go with me — anyone, whether it be a friend or another student. The best thing I ever did was go by myself. This pushes you to meet so many people you would not normally meet and try so many new things. Imagine studying abroad with your best friend…you will quickly find yourself doing everything together and fail to do the most important thing of all…build new relationships with other people.
- Learn about the local culture
I personally am not the type of person to look up local museums and tour them all day. I am more of a tropical girl…I’d rather ride on a boat or do some fun sports. BUT I must say learning everything about Spain, especially Barcelona, was actually really cool. Even learning the politics there was so interesting to me, and I hate politics. My favorite part was just sitting down with my host mom after dinner and just talking. She taught me so much about the history, politics, religion…everything you need to know. (It was all in Spanish so my understanding is probably at an 80%, but I understood the general idea). It was fun to compare the cultures and just get a better understanding of a place SO different from where you have grown up your entire life.
- TRY NEW THINGS
I am the type of person to go to all different restaurants and order the same exact thing…whether it be steak of chicken parmesan. Being in another country really taught me to always try new things. Every single day I was trying new foods, drinks and desserts. I was so surprised to realize I basically LOVED EVERYTHING. Every dish was cooked with such fresh ingredients and was delicious….a much bigger difference than everything processed in the USA. You can pay 1-2 euros…which is basically $2 and get a small tapas dish of delicious healthy food. My body sure did enjoy these two months of happy eating (I am surely not complaining).
- Always be friendly
You never know whom you are going to meet, whom you are going to click with, and who are going to become your close friends. Being abroad really showed me to not be judgmental or picky with people you want to hangout with. Being open and friendly from the beginning really made me truly enjoy everyone’s company, no matter who they were.
- KEEP A BLOG
My initial reasoning for having a blog was for two reasons: to post an excess amounts of pictures and not get judged for blowing up Instagram, and having one place where everyone can see what I am doing so I don’t have to tell everyone over and over again throughout my trip. But I have to say I am so happy I kept a blog. The feedback I received from everyone on my blog was honestly inspiring. I never realized how much I enjoyed writing and how funny of a writer I can be (okay, well I at least think I am funny, so that does count). I am also happy to share my blogs with others who may have questions or want advice when studying abroad. I can’t wait to look back a year from now and look at memories from being abroad.
Well anyway, this was so much fun to do and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
I am going to keep the blog up and post more blog posts as I continue to travel.
The travel bug has definitely bit me, and I can wait to start planning my next trip overseas!