Autumn Barlow - Bilbao, Spain

Autumn Barlow

Bilbao, Spain

What’s your major & where are you studying?
I am majoring in Communication and Hispanic Studies and this semester I am studying in Bilbao, Spain and I will be abroad until January 1st.

What type of courses are you taking?
My courses are Conversation, Gastronomy, Theater, and Spanish Literature, and they are all taught in Spanish. 

What is your favorite memory from your study abroad experience?
I've had many memorable experiences here so far, but one of my favorites was when I hiked 15 miles over 3 mountains with a group of Spanish hikers and other international students. I had no idea how capable I was to accomplish a hike of that degree, and I think that's a good representation of all my struggles and successes on this trip abroad. 

What is/was your favorite local landmark?
My favorite local landmark is mount Pagasarri, which was the first mountain that I hiked with the group. The view is spectacular and it's a tradition to go hiking on Sundays so everyone ages 4-60 is out hiking.

What are your living accommodations?
Here I live with a wonderful host family in an apartment in Bilbao. The daughter speaks English but I speak exclusively Spanish with the parents. The home is very comfortable and I'm improving my Spanish as well. 

What were questions you were asked by local residents?
From local residents, I get questions like, "What do you think about Donald Trump?" and other political topics, such as the gun laws and school shootings. Also I've been asked, "Is it true that most people in the U.S. are overweight?" and "Why do so many Americans like going for runs?"

What is your greatest challenge while being abroad?
My greatest challenge abroad has been the separation from my home culture and the people I love.

What skills have you acquired abroad?
Skills I have acquired abroad include improving my understanding of the Spanish language, my ability to adapt to change, the expansion of my cultural awareness and sensitivity to other cultures, and the ability to push myself to conquer my fears.

Has study abroad influenced your academic/career path?
Studying abroad has influenced my academic and career path in that I feel the need to have traveling included in my future job, or at least the flexibility to do so. I also want to be constantly learning, in my education, career, and life in general.

What would you say to someone considering studying abroad?
I would tell anyone considering studying abroad to take the leap and just go for it. I think it's a very special way to learn, and provides more real-life experience than textbook experience. Also, when people say it's life-changing, it's true.