Finding Identity while Studying Abroad in Barcelona

Before studying abroad, I was extremely timid and afraid of change. I found comfort in having the same routine every day and even felt fear towards starting new quarters at Cal Poly. Going into the experience, I didn’t have any close friends who were doing my study abroad program. I chose to live in the dorms because quite frankly I didn’t really understand the choices, and I wanted to meet as many people as possible.  

The beautiful Casa Batlló, located walking distance from the CEA CAPA center, seen on one of my field trips through my architecture of Barcelona course. 

A large archway with people walking around with Arc de Triomf in the background

The Arc de Triomf, in which I passed on my walk to school everyday, one of Barcelona’s examples of impeccable architecture. 

A person standing behind a large pile of fruits

La Boqueria.

My favorite market with the freshest fruit, La Boqueria. We also traveled to this market through my food and wine course, but I became a regular there after seeing all the amazing things it had to offer!

The first two weeks were very emotionally isolated, but the CEA CAPA staff did the utmost amazing job making each student feel supported and included with the different events and socials they planned.

A stadium full of people playing football

Iconic fútbol games in the Camp Nou Stadium in which CEA CAPA offers a field trip to through sports class! 

I said it many times and will continue to say it, but the professors at CEA CAPA were some of the most knowledgeable, passionate, and caring people I ever met during my college career.  

A group of study abroad students in a kitchen

Tapas cooking class with CEA CAPA, offered through my food and wine course. 

One specific instructor, who taught my intercultural communications class, lived so many different lives in her short life, as she was still young. She changed my perspective and outlook on life greatly. I had always felt I needed to be stuck in a 9-5 construct of life, as society typically teaches you, but she traveled, worked at hostels, taught, loved, and saw so much of the world. 

A person painting on a beach

Spontaneous beauty in the South of France. Moments like these felt like a scene out of a movie. 

I learned a lot about what La Merce means to the people who reside in Barcelona, as it is a special festival that occurs every fall, in which many families attend. This was the turning point in my experience abroad where I feel I really made true friends! 

A crowd of people in a street

La Merce festival.

While I was academically challenged to become the best version of myself, I also learned immense interpersonal skills and independence. I no longer needed my hand to be held, as we traveled to different countries every weekend, navigating airports in countless different languages, and meeting people from all over the world.  

A group of study abroad students posing for a picture in front of a large building

Budapest tour of architecture on a weekend trip to Hungary. 

I think one of the most special connections I had were the local bonds I formed. I went to the same cafe every morning to get coffee and the same shawarma place multiple times a week that they noticed when I was gone. I learned to be comfortable spending time alone, that change is beautiful instead of something to be feared, and that I can do whatever it is that may seem scary at first.  

A person standing under a stone archway

 Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest, my favorite city, other than Barcelona of course. 

I’m forever thankful for the CEA CAPA staff and this program for bringing me lifelong friends and transforming me into a confident individual. 

Two women sitting on a boat

A boat ride on the Mediterranean out of the Barcelona port with my best friend I met at CEA CAPA. 

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