Toinette Powers is GTI’s 2019-2020 CeNET Study Abroad scholarship recipient. Enjoy her photos and her thoughtful reflections on her semester in Santander, Spain!
I am Toinette Powers and I am double majoring in International Studies and Psychology with a minor in Spanish. I am currently studying abroad in Santander, Spain and it has been a life changing experience to say the least. I understand that “life changing” may seem like an exaggeration, but it is true. This experience so far has been full of excitement, nervousness, adventures, anxiety etc. Once I arrived in Santander, I met my homestay family and went to their home. This is when it all hit me: I was in a new country, I did not know any of the other American students prior to this trip, I barely know how to speak Spanish, I am about to live with a new family for 3 months, I am an African American Woman in Spain etc … I automatically started to ask myself “What are you doing here? Why did you decide to study abroad? You can always travel in the future, why did you decide to do this now!?”
With the combination of time, my support systems, connecting with the other study abroad students within my cohort and the continuation of getting out of my comfort zone, I have started to get into the rhythm of my life in Spain. Studying abroad is a beautiful, chaotic and monumental way to get connected with your soul and who you currently are in comparison to who you want to be. Being thousands of miles away from my comfort zone, family, and friends has given me the opportunity to understand who I am in a deeper way that I could not have experienced if I had not studied abroad.
I have approximately a month and ¾ left in Spain before I return home. From traveling to other countries, getting lost in different towns, meeting more Spaniards and going on new adventures – I have many more memories to make before I come back to America. It has been stated that the hardest part of studying abroad is not leaving home but diving back into life at home, college, etc. I believe this is 100% going to be the case. The same way I have changed and gained new experiences, my family and friends in the United States may have also changed and gained new experiences in a different way. But the best way for me to prepare for this is to understand that I can only control what is happening right now. Right now, I have a little more than a month left in Spain. I have to live it up and continue to be present while I am still here, before all I have left to remember these life changing experiences are my memories.