by Dominic Occhiuzzo, Florida Gulf Coast University
Studying abroad is an exciting adventure that is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. However, every student is sure to face some type of challenge or barrier over the course of the semester. An important aspect of life is to be able to welcome these challenges and better yourself by overcoming them.
When prepping to come to Barcelona, I had an unlimited amount of questions that caused me to have anxiety and fears about possible challenges and whether I would be able to overcome them – things like the language barrier, cultural shock, and just being far away from home in general. My worries were eased with the help and support of the Barcelona SAE staff and my study abroad advisor, who provided answers to all of my questions and concerns. From assistance with my visa to questions about getting around Barcelona, they were always there to help, which made the entire process easier.
During the first few weeks of my stay in Barcelona, I still faced the expected challenges of struggling to communicate in a different language and adjusting to living in a foreign country. At first it was even difficult to order food at a restaurant – I was worried I would say a word incorrectly or that they would misinterpret something I said. But with time and help from my homestay family, I was able to practice more, which made me feel more and more comfortable in Barcelona and it now feels like home. I improved my language skills by attending local language exchanges where I could practice speaking. It was also a great way to meet locals who had similar interests.
Something that surprised me about Barcelona was the amount of different cultures in the city. As the capital of Catalonia, there are a ton of proud Catalans who are eager to share their culture and history with others. As expected, my experience here has been fantastic and I am continuing to improve my language skills and cultural awareness. I am excited to see what these next few months have in store and I could not be happier to continue this journey with my new lifelong family and friends.