Jamie's experience was partially funded by the Sociology Undergraduate Program Fundng Opportunity which provides funding (up to $300) to facilitate academic experiences beyond the traditional U-M classroom. Check out the website to find out more information about this opportunity.
Jamie is eager to share about her experience. Take a look!
This past semester, I spent 4 months studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain. I truly cannot put into words the impact that this semester has had on me and the way I feel towards the world and specifically my host city. My eyes have been opened entirely to a completely different way of life, and I was able to immerse myself into another culture for 4 months, which was such a cool and enriching experience. I have learned so much about the differences and similarities between the United States and Spain, and I’ve gotten to embrace the differences and carry a piece of them home with me. For example, it is much more common in Spain to use meals as a time for relaxation and conversation, as opposed to a quick 10-minute break to grab a bite. I would sometimes spend 2 hours at a meal in Spain, and although not always practical, I have learned through this experience to be more appreciative of my time and my company and to really take some time to step away from the chaos of each day. Another cultural difference that I learned to embrace was the language difference. While I have a general understanding of Spanish, much of Barcelona actually speaks Catalan, which I know none of; therefore, I had to try my hardest to communicate effectively despite the frequent language barrier. Often times very short basic words were used along with hand motions. While troublesome at first, it became much easier and I found that by the end of my semester, I was almost independent as I had learned through time and previous interactions how to get around and be an active study abroad student. I feel that I have a much less ethnocentric approach to viewing others now, and can appreciate the differences as opposed to writing them off as ‘weird’ or ‘incorrect.’ I learned that there are several things that I have grown accustomed to in the US that weren’t the same or didn’t exist at all in Spain, and I grew to understand these differences as simply that-differences. Additionally, throughout my travels to other countries, I learned even more about Europe as a whole and the beautiful places and culture that it has to offer. I saw many historical sites, such as palaces in Vienna, and many beautiful cultural displays, such as the photo from Prague. Thanks to the sociology funding, I was able to enrich my historical and cultural understanding of the places that I got to see through museum and city tours. As a sociology student, I feel that I now have a much broader horizon on many issues- particularly that of the Catalan Independence, as it most directly relates to my host city. I have a much greater understanding of the history behind this desire for independence and an appreciation for the movement that is currently taking place. I have attached some photos from this previous semester, exemplifying some of the places I traveled as well as some of the historical sites that I had the opportunity to see!