University of Iowa

Travel, self-discovery, and personal growth

January 27th, 2020

City of Arts and Sciences: Valencia, Spain

In my time abroad I was able to visit 8 countries and loved every minute of it. Some highlights were getting into the Louvre art museum in Paris for free (the Louvre is free for anyone under age 26 on Fridays 6-9:45 pm), going on FREE walking tours everywhere (it sounds like a scam but you can find free walking tours in most big cities in Europe with the only fee being how much you choose to tip your guide at the end. I loved it because it was usually a better option than logistically planning my own sights around the city). Seeing a giant atom (the Atomium) in Brussels, Belgium (I love chemistry, and being able to go inside an atom was exciting), seeing a gorgeous monastery in Lisbon, Portugal and learning about the rich history of the Portuguese, flying over the snow-capped Alps (breathtaking), snorkeling in a hidden coral cove in Ibiza, and eating the best pasta I have ever tasted at a restaurant in Tuscany, Italy. I was crazy busy in the best way and cannot recommend study abroad enough to anyone considering it.

The benefits of my experience abroad are immeasurable and irreplaceable. I learned so much about Spain, Spanish, travel, myself, being open-minded, standing up for myself, my thoughts and beliefs, my habits and culture, food likes (and dislikes), who I surround myself with, how I travel, who I travel well with (and don’t), how I dress, speak, communicate and treat people, and more. Just in my classes (I took Spanish and chemistry), I learned a lot about how to speak the language, but the real application came outside of the classroom when I spoke with locals and my host mom. By living in Spain, I was able to use what I was learning in class and really accelerate my knowledge and ability to speak the Spanish language.


Jerónimos Monastery: Lisbon, Portugal

I tried very hard to never limit myself and to try new things. I had many challenges and few regrets. I can now confidently work almost any airport, subway station, train station, and all other forms of public transportation. I am happy to have learned about other cultures, food, travel, and language because now I feel like I can refocus that knowledge onto others. I am better able to work with people from different cultures, eliminate bias and frustration with cultures and habits different from what I am used to, and get along with people better now that I have more experiences to relate to. It is amazing how many cool places, sights, food, traditions, cultures, and people are out in the world and this experience opened my eyes to all the places I have yet to see.


Park Güell: Barcelona, Spain

Mijoux, France

London, England

Rome, Italy

London, England

La Sagrada Familia: Barcelona, Spain

Eiffel Tower: Paris, France

The Alps

Girona, Spain

Regensburg, Germany

The Atomium: Brussels, Belgium
 

If I have piqued your interest in Valencia, Spain, travel, or food, check out my other blog posts and as always, PLEASE feel free to reach out to me if you are thinking about studying abroad, are going to Valencia, want to plan a weekend trip to Valencia, have questions about where to travel to in Europe, how to fly super cheap, how to see everything in London in just one day, the best places to eat fresh fruit or churros, how much study abroad might cost (real numbers from when I wrote down everything I spent), how much you can expect/budget to spend on a weekend trip, Airbnb/hostel recommendations and do’s/don’ts, where you can find genuine alpine cows and anything else you can think of. Whether you have one question or one million questions, I will literally drop what I'm doing to talk about it. I always check my email and am not scary. Emily-carroll@uiowa.edu

Emily Carroll, a third-year chemistry student from West Des Moines, Iowa, studied abroad in Spain on the USAC Valencia program.

Author