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Making It Happen

I always planned to study abroad, but I never really planned to study abroad. Studying abroad was always something I thought about, always something I wanted to do, but never something that I really thought would happen. I always made excuses. Studying engineering, I wouldn’t have time in my schedule. Being vegan, I wouldn’t find anything to eat abroad. I would have to move again, getting settled somewhere else, maybe learn a new language.

And yet, here I am, abroad in Spain..

I am able to study at a school where I can take three chemical engineering classes and one economics class, going towards my major and minor. I am able to eat amazing food – fruit in Spain, bread and lentils in Morocco, pasta in Italy. I was able to get settled into this new country through a homestay program, and then move into my own apartment.

And, the best thing of all, I am learning Spanish.

I’ve only been in Santander, Spain for a month and a half, but I’ve already made it my home. I know the hours of the supermercado around the corner (9-9, 10-2 on Sundays). I know the best place to stand by the beach to watch the surfers (the balcony at the center). I know the best coffee shop in town (Santa & Co). And of course, in between making Santander my home, I’ve gotten the chance to travel to surrounding countries – to Ireland, the U.K., the Netherlands, Morocco, Germany, Italy. And soon – Switzerland, France, and Croatia. 

I’ve learned more so far in my semester abroad than I ever thought I would – from giving directions to tourists in Santander in Spanish, to having mint tea with Moroccans in the Atlas Mountains, to understanding history by visiting a concentration camp in Germany, the Vatican in Rome, and the Cathedral and market in Valencia.

My advice to anyone who was like me – who thought that studying abroad would eventually happen, who worried about all the what-ifs, who made excuses for why studying abroad may not work out is: Do it anyway. Studying abroad is easy. Getting a visa, getting on a plane, and moving into an apartment halfway across the world is easy. (Easier than you think!) So, make it happen.

Maria Devoto
University of Tulsa ‘19
Chemical Engineering
Spain | Spring 2018