Ink Stains from Spain: Student overcomes challenges and makes new connections

In Columns, Features
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After navigating the experience of searching for an apartment abroad, Vasquez went on a day trip to Baeza and Úbeda, where she got to know her fellow classmates.
(Breanna Vasquez / Daily Titan)

During the past two weeks of my life in Spain, I’ve experienced some of the most frustrating,  peaceful and happiest times of my 23 years of existence.

Trying to find an apartment and signing a lease in a foreign language was one of the hardest tasks I’ve had to complete while abroad. As I’ve said before, even everyday tasks have been a challenge, but trying to figure out the logistics of a binding contract in Spanish was altogether overwhelming and intimidating to me.

However, something I learned through the process of finding an apartment is that there’s always someone there to lend a helping hand and guide you to make the right decision. The feeling of a stranger helping you makes the feeling of frustration fade away. These engagements with strangers help me give thanks to a higher power for allowing me to experience the genuine goodness of the world.

One of the greatest inspirational aspects about studying abroad is its capability to bring people from all around the world together to learn about other people’s lived experiences.

The Cal State University International Program I am part of chose 30 students from all over the state to study in Jaén, Spain. We had never met before, had never spoken before and yet, here we are together, experiencing some of the greatest moments of our lives.

The diversity of our group is what has filled my time abroad so far with everlasting memories.

After a day of traveling to the beautiful Renaissance heritage cities of Baeza and Úbeda, we headed to one of Spain’s natural parks. We came together as one under a sea of stars in the hills of the Sierra Cazorla.

It was there under the sky that everyone’s differences diminished and we all laid together on a blanket and talked about our life experiences. The Interstellar soundtrack played on a phone and the sound of a small creek rushing filled the background. At this moment, I felt at peace–more than I ever have before.

However, it isn’t just our group’s connection that has made my time in Spain memorable; it’s also learning from other international students what life outside the United States is like. As a journalism student, I am well aware of global issues. But hearing a classmate talk about getting bombed in Korea while taking a test, or another classmate talk about fleeing Syria has made me appreciate the opportunity to experience what the world has to offer.

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