With his international business major and minors in both Spanish and English, Jackson Booth ’20 was well-equipped for his semester abroad in Alicante, Spain. Booth was excited not only to see a new part of the world but also to discover a few things about himself. Here are some of his takeaways from his recent semester abroad.
My Top 5 Study Abroad Experiences
Learning Spanish. It sounds simple, but the process of studying a language is really exciting. When you are fully immersed in a language and culture, the learning never stops.
Working at the local coffee shop. I had the opportunity to intern in Alicante’s #1 café and roastery, Madness. Not only did my internship apply directly to my passion for coffee, but I was also immersed in the Spanish language through daily conversation with my friends and customers at Madness. I was working with baristas from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, and – all of whom taught me so much about their cultures and made working a blast.
The beach. I can’t count how many times I went to the beach to relax, play volleyball, and hang out with friends. It was an amazing opportunity to live that close to the ocean and I’m happy to say I took full advantage.
The history across Europe. The Castle of Santa Barbara, a castle from the ninth century that still stands today in Alicante, was just one of the amazing historical places that I visited. Being able to see the Vatican in person was an awe-inspiring experience. I was able to take in the amazingly detailed art that surrounded me and learn more about the history of Rome and the Catholic church. Seeing how buildings from hundreds or even thousands of years ago were being preserved was incredibly interesting. This rich European history was especially captivating because in the United States we don’t have that same historical longevity and preservation.
Relationships. I’m really grateful that I had an incredible host family to spend my five months in Spain with. I loved the culture of sitting down for every meal with people closest to you (seriously: breakfast, lunch, and dinner). The more relaxed culture of Spain encourages making more time spent with friends; people will go to coffee or tapa bars regularly for the purpose of spending hours chatting. It’s something that I enjoyed seeing while working in the coffee shop, and something that I loved to do with my own friends.
Top 5 Things I Learned About Myself While Studying Abroad
Everyone is your teacher. I found that the most important thing about learning a language in a different country is to treat everyone as a resource. My host family, local friends, co-workers, and even clients were all able to teach me something.
Getting out of your comfort zone is the most rewarding experience. Saying yes to every opportunity, talking with strangers, going places without set directions lead to new lessons, friends, and experiences.
Valuing impermanence. Leaving a place after five months of connections being made and memories being shared is really hard. But I learned to really enjoy the present moment with the people I was with. Taking time to embrace precious moments and realize that part of their beauty is their impermeability.
Relax. In general, Spain is a lot slower paced than the U.S. I enjoyed feeling like I could take more time and connect with the people around me. I hope to bring back this slower pace mentality and show others the benefits of taking time to connect with the people around you.
Be brave. It became evident that if I wanted to get the most out of my time abroad, I needed to try new things. Whether it was trying different foods, taking fun trips, or making new friends, I made sure to experience as many things as I could. Saying yes to opportunities and being confident were the keys to getting the most out of time abroad.