This post is courtesy of Grethel Ochoa, ASU Study Abroad alumni. Grethel studied in Madrid, Spain on the exchange program ISA: Spanish Language, Liberal Arts & Business at the Antonio de Nebrija University during the summer 2016 months. Alex was also a recipient of the SAO Travel Grant.
Hello! My name is Grethel Ochoa and I am a senior at ASU majoring in Psychology and currently studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. I will be graduating in Spring 2017, as soon as I come back from this incredible once in life time experience. Psychology is the study of understanding how and why each individual behaves the way they do, whether it is in a social environment or individually. It is a very complex and interesting way to analyze people and life in general. Our experiences are the key to behavior, with experiences we create our cognitive mental process (perception, language, emotions, etc.). So what better way to explore new experiences than studying abroad in another country, a country that is rich in culture and diversity.
If I could describe my experience abroad so far in a word, it would be “maze.” A maze is a puzzle with different pathways in search for a goal. Although there are some pathways that might seem to head towards the specific goal, some pathways lead you to the opposite way of it. And it is not until you open your eyes and follow cues that lead you to your destination. This metaphor is exactly how I feel so far, every day I have a goal to achieve, and sometimes I do not even have a specific goal and I somehow find the way to a new one.
Studying abroad is helping me see the world in a different way. I am discovering who I am and what I aim for in life. I am learning how different Spanish culture is: from tapas and siestas, their traditions vary from our American traditions. Spanish culture is composed of very different periods, from the monarchy to wars and dictatorships. If I explain all the history of Spain that I have learned at Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, I would never end this post. The host university is exactly how I imagined it was going to be, as well as the ISA program staff. They are always concerned if we are having any problems in our courses, how Madrid is treating us, and how we feel living in a different country. I can say that I feel like home, Madrid has my heart and I never want to go back, but I know that ASU is waiting for me to graduate and fulfill all of my goals in becoming a Psychologist.
I have been to the most breathtaking places both in Spain and other parts of Europe, such as Ireland. Being able to witness places that I have only seen in pictures is absolutely the best feeling ever. You feel that every experience is a magical dream you never want to wake up from, but then you perceive life as it is and realize you are living your own dream. Before studying abroad, I never knew the actual definition of explore. Studying abroad helps you define the definition of explore, by visiting different countries or cities, making new friends all over the world and discovering how diverse the world is, but mainly to get to know your inner you.
For anyone who wants to study abroad, I will assure one thing, you will have the time of your life learning in the most entertaining way, whether it is in a country with a foreign language or in a country that is thousands of miles away from home. Getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to help you grow and become independent and organize your priorities, become responsible in different situations, and most important of all, become a mature adult. So, I am calling every Sun Devil out there that has not study abroad to discover a new experience and to take advantage of all the opportunities ASU is giving us to discover the world.