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From Aggieland to Barcelona

Insight on what it takes to travel abroad from Aggieland

Published: Sunday, September 4, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

Devoted to discussing the experiences of a semester abroad in Barcelona, Spain, this blog is published every Friday and will be updated to share experiences of the culture, diversity, fashion and music abroad as it compares to Aggieland.

For a student not attending classes on the first day of school, I sure got in a great workout hustling around campus this Monday, August 29. Studying abroad is not for the weary, and I have yet to set foot inside of my host country — Barcelona, Spain.

I've been planning to "Go Away!" for quite some time, but these last few weeks have been intense with the amount of work that really goes into preparing for such a trip.

Deciding where I wanted to study was the easiest part in this entire process thus far. However, getting everything organized as a reciprocal exchange student has been a busy task. But no need to fear the deadlines, signatures and paper work, there are plenty of faculty and staff that are more than willing to help you every step of the way. 

The Study Abroad Office is exactly where I started and they sent me to the appropriate advisor in the Mays Business School.  After signing up to study at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain there has been a whirlwind of planning.

First, there is the acceptance at the host university, followed by approval of classes being transferred. It's not too lengthy of a process, but it is one that requires much emailing, meeting times with advisors and mile long walks around campus. With each signature approving a class, I know I am one step closer to a successful semester abroad.

I cannot stress the importance of applying for a student visa early.  My visa should finally be ready this week, which is cutting it close before my departure. I do not recommend waiting this long before applying for a visa because it only adds unnecessary stress.

With the help of my advisors and a couple of trips to the Spanish Consulate in Houston, everything should be ready to go by this weekend!

One of my favorite parts of planning has probably been finding a place to live in Spain. House hunting may not be on everyone's favorite things to-do list, but I have to say finding a student apartment, only blocks from the Mediterranean Sea, proved not to be such a bad task at all!

However, the one thing that I am a little nervous about, that is also a concern to my family and friends, is my inability to pack efficiently. This is really going to take some time and thought. I tend to pack for any and all occasions, but this four-month trip is going to have to consolidate itself into a suitcase and a carry-on.

I may be able to use this to my advantage. How? There's only one answer for such a question — shopping.  I absolutely love to shop and I cannot wait to share with readers the fashion I will be eyewitness to. Texas A&M University, I must admit, is not the fashion capital of the world. Milan, Italy is. Although I won't be there, I'll definitely be close enough. Fashion in Europe is always a couple of seasons ahead of the United States.

It may seem to be a lot of running around right now, but with careful planning studying abroad can be done. Every advisor, teacher, and peer whom I have talked to has been more than encouraging about my semester abroad. Each conversation lights the excitement just a little bit more.  The days running around campus (in hot Texas weather) cannot even contain my enthusiasm. I am truly excited to immerse myself in something so foreign from life here in Aggieland.

The best part is being able to share my experience. From now until my actual departure on September 12th, my main goal is to read up on the country and city, and really get a better idea of the Spanish culture so I don't dive in completely blind. Stay tuned for when things get really exciting.

Bianca Stewart is a senior marketing major at Texas A&M University. She is interested in fashion, music, and culture.

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