Semester in Valencia, Spain, 2012
I went to Valencia on a whim. I had always wanted to study abroad, and I had a serious fascination with the Spanish language, so when my roommate told me that she was heading to Spain, I decided to go too. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. As someone who had never left the country before, or even been to a city larger than Washington D.C., I was really nervous about going to a foreign place, full of people who didn't speak my language and living among them in a city of about 1 million people. But I knew that this was something that I had to do. I made it my goal to go out and make Spanish friends, try all of the Spanish food, and see all of the sights that Valencia had to offer. I was rewarded with a deep understanding of Spanish culture, amazing memories, and incredible friendships. Yes, I learned to speak better Spanish, and I learned about Spanish culture, history, food, architecture, and politics. But the most important things I leaned were quite different from what I had expected. I learned to be confident in myself, to live with relative independence, to navigate a city. I grew up a lot. Studying abroad changed my life, and it's something that I think everyone should experience.