My name is Marielena Salazar and I’m a junior studying English and Telecommunications at the University of Florida. My dreams include becoming an anchor on a nationwide news network and being able to eat anything I want! Reading, writing, running, and crafting are some of my favorite things to do when I’m not studying or spending time with my friends and family. Taking life as it comes is one of the things I like to live by.
Before college, I went to an all girl’s high school and there was this program where they chose a selective few to travel through three different countries. I was one of the fortunate girls that were chosen to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain at the Universidad de Salamanca. The week before we boarded our plane to the Spanish city, we made pit stops in St. Petersburg, Russia and London, England. These were the first countries that we encountered on our adventure.
The culture shock when you enter these societies is mind blowing. I’m from Miami, Florida, so big cities had never left me awestruck until the day I walked the streets of St. Petersburg and London. It was difficult to not let my jaw touch the floor as I visited buildings that were centuries old. The architecture is just one aspect that astonished my friends and me. The culture, the food, the people, and the everyday life of these people are completely different.
The trip gave me just a small taste of what studying abroad would entail and it left me craving for more. Not only do students experience the ethnicities, but it also teaches someone how to be fearless. Removing someone from their normal routine allows a person to grow in ways that they would never imagine. You can only imagine the struggle I had trying to get from point A to point B when we were in St. Petersburg. My friends and I had to decipher this foreign language that none of us understood. You are forced to learn a language that probably was once almost the equivalent of decoding hieroglyphs. My parents were born in Nicaragua so Spanish was my first language. As I grew up I drifted from my roots as a Nicaraguan and lost what was once a language that came easily to me. I realized the difference in my Spanish before and after leaving Spain and it shows how practicing languages is evident while visiting these countries.
Traveling is a great way to escape into new worlds that you never would have expected yourself to witness with the naked eye. Being just halfway through my journey as a college student opens my eyes to many different opportunities that I realize now will never be granted to me ever again. After you’re done with school, there will be a slim chance you will be able to take off work for months at a time to travel the world. Students have the advantage that their only responsibility is to get good grades and strive to be on the Dean’s List. Finding yourself is important in these four years of college. I realize now that that is how it’s supposed to be during this period of my life. College grants students new opportunities to create a future for them and studying abroad is one of those opportunities that should be seized if given the chance.