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Study Abroad. Rest. Repeat.

“A once in a lifetime experience” is how many people describe study abroad. After studying abroad for the first time with CEA in Seville, Spain, I knew once would never be enough. Despite the rough start (travel tip: prepare for flight delays and lost luggage!), I had an incredible time getting to know the city, language, culture, people, and traveling itself. Studying abroad and traveling in general make you more open to new experiences and open up a new side of yourself that you may never find back home.
 Plaza de España at sunset on the bike tour of the city with CEA in Seville
 My roommates and I at a flamenco show in Seville, Spain

After returning home, I became a CEA Alumni Ambassador during the school year, which is an awesome way to stay connected with your study abroad experience. Not only do you get to encourage other students to study abroad, but you also get to relive your own study abroad by sharing your own experience and advice. I suppose I was fairly good at it because I got a lot of students more interested in it and convinced myself to go again.

Unsurprisingly, I was met with a lot of opposition from various people, “Wasn’t once enough?” “What if you don’t graduate on time?” “What’s the purpose? Isn’t it just a fun/slack off semester?” To answer the questions, once was not enough. Twice will not be enough. After starting to see the world, I have every intention of making travel a part of my life. While I won’t be graduating on time, if I had studied abroad just a semester earlier I could have done it (my university requires that the last 32 credits be taken on campus). The purpose of studying abroad is more than traveling around the world for me. Studying abroad allows you to truly become immersed in a culture, learn the language and customs, and become a citizen of the world.

 I loved being able to walk by the Cathedral everyday on my way to class!
 In the courtyard of the Real Alcázar in Seville

Trying to choose a program, I think, is the one of the most difficult aspect of study abroad (packing taking the #1 spot). I considered going back to Seville, but I wanted to see a different part of the world and was afraid of replicating my first experience. I was interested in lot a few different cities, so I ended up messaging a bunch of the Alumni Ambassadors (thanks guys!) on what their experience was like. In the end, I choose San Jose, Costa Rica because it was a new part of the world, I could still practice my language skills, and the semester schedule fit in well. San Jose also had classes that related to my major, which is a huge plus.

As I’m preparing to head off on my study abroad program, I’m much more excited and relaxed for what is to come. Do I still have some nervousness about being able to speak the language or looking like a foreigner? Of course, but there are some things you can’t prepare for or can’t change. While I don’t know just what to expect, I know I’ll have another incredible adventure.

Kathryn Moorhead is a Summer 2013 Seville, Spain alumna, CEA Alumni Ambassador at Iowa State University, and a Fall 2014 CEA MOJO in San Jose, Costa Rica.  

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