I am kind of the average joe. I mean, my name, Amanda, is one of the top ten girl’s names from 1995. I’m a marketing major. I use French Vanilla Coffeemate. I have a Pinterest board full of sweets I will never make. Totally average over here. However, in the midst of all of that, I have some unique qualities, too. For example, I make toast on my stovetop because I am too stubborn (or maybe too cheap) to buy a toaster. I have a weird vendetta against finishing books. And perhaps most important to this blog, I am about to embark on a study abroad journey to Bilbao, Spain with the organization International Studies Abroad (ISA).
I wasn’t ever sure I wanted to study abroad; I’m still not really sure. But DU gave me that little push to apply. Being unsure, I created a mental list of criteria for my study abroad destination:
- Spanish-speaking. This was important to me because I am debating adding a Spanish minor and I thought living in a Spanish-speaking culture could help me determine if I would want to use the language in my career.
- City life. Living in a larger city would give more opportunity to sightsee while also providing access to better developed public transport.
- A school with “limited” DU students attending. I didn’t move far for college (3 miles away, to be exact), so this would be my opportunity to start fresh and be on my own.
- Apartment or dormitory living accommodations. Homestays seem like they would limit my independence because I would be on my host family’s time. I had already moved out on my own, I didn’t want to have parents again!
- Service-learning opportunity. I took a service-learning class my freshman year and I think that it gave me a tie to the community that we often take for granted.
Photo by Kadir Cinoglu
In the end, I chose the Universidad de Deusto in Bilbao, Spain. Specifically, I am enrolled in the program for Business, International Relations, and Spanish Language. I can take classes for my marketing major, as well as classes accredited to the Spanish minor at DU. There is also a service-learning course, a tandem program (for partnering with local students to teach each other Spanish and English), and a Spanish cuisine class! Additionally, the city of Bilbao has so much to offer. I look forward to exploring the Bay of Biscay, Mount Artxanda, the art of traditional dance, and the famous Guggenheim Museum.
After reviewing my criteria, I realized that none of the schools met my five requirements. I shouldn’t have set too many expectations before going abroad. And I think recognizing this was one of the best ways to prepare for studying abroad (along with buying a new digital camera, of course). Since it’s a different country and culture, I need to remember that not everything will meet some mental checklist of mine. Learning to “go with the flow” will suit me well on my journey in the fall, especially because I tend to be type A to a fault.
The only criteria the Universidad de Deusto did not meet: residencia living accommodations. Last week, I tried something new and went to a tarot card reader. The tarot reader said that I am too serious and have too much of an old mind to be 20. She said the only way to change this mindset is to let go of the past. I think Bilbao is my opportunity to take this advice. And so, although I’m terrified of living with a host family, I’m going in with a youthful mind. I’m finally ready to immerse myself in a new life this fall.