Study Abroad: Tracy Werick (C’19) – Spain

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Tracy in Barcelona

Where did you go?

Salmanca, Spain.

What class did you enjoy most and why?

I enjoyed my Fundamentals of Social Work class the most. This class was required for social work majors at the university where I studied and gave a broad overview of the discipline. I had never taken a social work class before, but I enjoyed the course as we discussed many issues that I have long been interested in, such as socioeconomic inequality and gender. One aspect of the class that I particularly enjoyed was learning about these issues in the context of Spain. While I have spent a lot of time at Georgetown studying inequality, I appreciated the opportunity to gain a different perspective that I can’t necessarily get in the United States.  

What is something that took you by surprise?

One thing that took me by surprise was how strongly I experienced culture shock. I knew before going to Spain that culture shock was to be expected, but my first few weeks ultimately wound up being much more shocking than anticipated. I learned quickly that it’s one thing to study other cultures and culture shock, and another to go through the process yourself!

What is something that you wish you knew before going?

Before going, I wish I had known that I would have more valuable learning experiences outside the classroom than in. At Georgetown I’m a very focused student and I had planned to be the exact same way in Spain. Due to these expectations, I think I spent a lot of time stressing about school that could have been spent learning in a different way. Academics are undeniably important while abroad, but I wish I had gone to Spain more focused on learning by experience.

Any advice to future study abroad students? (Can be specific to your location or about the process in general)

Based on everything I had seen and read about “abroad” on social media before going to Spain, I felt pressured to have an amazing, “life-changing” experience and go to different countries every weekend. While that is one way to experience abroad, do not feel that you have to go about it that way! During my semester in Spain I did not leave the Iberian Peninsula and spent the vast majority of my time experiencing daily life in Salamanca. I’m really glad I chose to spend my time in this way, as it allowed me to experience Spanish culture more deeply and find a new “normal” for me in Spain. Spend your time abroad in the way that you think will be most impactful for you and don’t feel pressured to spend all of your free time traveling!

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