Austin Drake ’11 – Spain has, in a word, been asombroso. It has been both a challenge and a great blessing.

Studying abroad has thus far challenged me and driven me towards greater independence and maturity as both an individual and student. I believe that I entered Spain with a very limited worldview, but I will be leaving in just a few weeks with a much greater grasp of what it means to be a citizen of the USA, a European country and the world.

Studying over here, I have found many things that I love about Spain. For example, after a long day of work and a good meal, the Spaniards don’t work around the house; instead they take the famous siesta, prepping themselves for a long evening with friends and/or family. In bars and restaurants, it’s common to chill there after having some tapas and talk with your friends. Life here is centered around being social—not a bad strategy.

I’ve also realized how great we have it in the US. The starkest contrast came from my visit to Morocco. We went to a village in rural Morocco, a night and day difference from anything I have ever seen in the US. Electricity is used sparingly, houses are open to the elements, and clean, running water is a luxury. Even compared to an industrialized country like Spain, we enjoy many more privileges. Here an unemployment rate around 10% is the norm, and salaries are comparatively lower. I love Spain, but I’ve also learned to love the Red, White and Blue even more, too. 
Spain has so much to offer students wanting to experience a different culture. It has an amazing history (especially the 20th century), and a much different way of approaching healthcare. It also is a great place to travel from, offering tons of sights within its borders such as the Guggenheim in Bilbao, La Concha de San Sebastian, the mastery of Picasso, el Greco or Goya, or La Alhambra of Granada. It also is a great hub to France, Portugal, the UK, Ireland, or Africa. Travelling has been amazing, taking me to 5 new countries and offering tons of experiences and stories along the way
Learning in a different culture and environment is the perfect complement to my Liberal Arts education. Not only have I taken various courses covering arts, history and economics, but I have learned them from a completely different perspective. I sincerely believe that anyone with the possibility of studying abroad should jump on the opportunity. It is a great experience that has permanently changed my worldview, enhanced my education, forced me to mature as an individual and been an all-around good time!