June 01, 2020
When It happened
I didn’t hear much about COVID-19 until late January when it began to impact Italy. It wasn’t until late February that I received an email from my school that the first case was reported. And then at the beginning of March, within a week everything went from completely normal to my program completely suspended. I wanted to cry or scream. I started researching flights, but everything was extremely expensive. By the following Monday, the whole country was in lockdown. I ultimately decided to stay in Spain because I really did not want to leave. Why would I?
I was having the best time of my life. Also, thinking about taking my finals online from home with the time difference just really didn’t make sense. I wanted to finish my courses here. And when I realized classes at UC Santa Cruz would also be online for spring quarter, I decided that it would be a better experience to continue on with the second round of classes here. So far, everything has been smooth, there is just a learning curve transitioning to online instruction.
Well, I didn’t. After consulting with my parents and my study abroad advisor here in Barcelona, I actually decided to stay and quarantine in Barcelona. I wanted to take my postponed finals in the same time zone, and I wanted to continue studying with my European friends for my spring quarter classes. Unfortunately, my roommate who I really like went back to her island Lanzarote, so I actually live in quarantine in my apartment alone. It hasn’t been too bad though because I am always busy studying for classes, keeping in touch with friends and family, and watching La Casa de Papel to practice my Spanish. It is a little weird to keep in touch with my family with the 9-hour time difference, but my break in between classes really helped with that. I use “House Party” with my friends about once a week (which is a group video chat app) and just try to enjoy it. It is an interesting perspective to see what’s happening with the U.S. from Spain, but ultimately, I’m just glad to be safe here in Barcelona.
Looking back at your experience
I absolutely loved going to Pompeu Fabra! The professors were really good, and I met people from all over the world. That’s what I love about Barcelona, it is such an international city allowing me to be friends with people from so many different countries. Some of my favorite memories were joining the Erasmus activity group that set up events for foreign students. Some of my favorites were: a weekend at a farmhouse, being part of an Egyptian themed cantus in Girona, dressing up for the carnival in Sitges, watching a flamenco at Gaudi’s Palau de la Musica, and hiking at Montserrat.
For future students studying abroad
Spain is absolutely incredible. I was truly blown away by this country! Before coming to Barcelona, I did two UCEAP programs: a six-week summer program in Cádiz and a fall quarter in Granada. I fell in love with this country, culture, people, way of life, and its language. I recommend study abroad to all students, no matter what major you are in. As a result of studying abroad for one year in a foreign country in which I must speak in another language every day, I have become so much more confident and independent, and it has helped me figure out what I want for myself and for my life. This year was not perfect, but it has been 100% worth it, no regrets whatsoever. I am quite upset about it ending the way it is, but I am thankful I had some time in Barcelona before everything closed down. Spain is so beautiful. Granada has an amazing culture. Barcelona showed me how independent and adaptable I can be. I personally believe that studying abroad should be mandatory so we can all gain these experiences. If you think you don’t have the time, go in the summer! There are risks everywhere, so you shouldn’t let that stop you. Even though I couldn’t properly finish my program, I have experienced such boundless joy this year, that no one, not even the coronavirus, can ever take away from me.