Alex Meyers - 2015 Program Participant

Girl dressed for Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Studying abroad had always been a goal of mine. I always wanted to travel and experience as much as possible when it comes to other cultures and customs. I think it is important for every person to experience a life that is different than what they are used to; it gives you the chance to learn and grow as a person.

When I first got to college, I actually thought that it would not be possible for me because I was playing soccer. Due to some unforeseen injuries, circumstances changed, so I decided to make the best of it and try to make my dream of studying abroad a reality. It has been the best decision of my life!

Why did you choose AIFS?

I first went to the study abroad office at my school to ask for information. They gave me a packet with a lot of different programs and I started doing some research. I looked through many different options and began to compare them based off of many factors, such as, price, included trips, resources, and optional activities. I found the AIFS program and it appeared to have the best combination of everything I wanted.

What was your favorite part about Barcelona?

Barcelona has an endless amount of things to go see and do. There were so many museums, parks, and landmarks to keep me busy the whole semester. I love how Barcelona has it all, from La Sagrada Familia to the FC Barcelona team. There was never a lack of activities; I had more troubling trying to fit in all in!
Sunset over Florence, Italy

Sunset over Florence

What makes AIFS unique?

The amount of included activities in the AIFS program makes it unique. They had so many cultural activities throughout the semester that allowed all of us to see and do things we had not heard about or would not have been able to do on our own. The AIFS staff was also very involved with all of it and were very attentive and helpful with everything.

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The local AIFS staff was great there. They were very friendly and made an effort to get to know each person in the program. This was nice because we all felt comfortable going to them to ask questions, ask for any suggestions, or just to go and chat. They were more than willing to offer help to anyone that needed it.

American fans at an FC Barcelona Game

At an FC Barcelona Game

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I don't think I wish I would've done differently. I think I had a good balance of traveling as well as staying in Barcelona, as well as taking advantage of every opportunity that presented itself while I was here.

Describe a day in your life as an international student in Barcelona.

First off, I would wake up and go get breakfast in the kitchen with my roommate. Next, depending on the day, I would go with some of my friends to explore the city to see something or do something we haven’t done before. After that I would leave to go to class at one of the campuses they have there. The classes were great because they had people from many different countries, so in addition to learning the material we were also getting exposure to other cultures. After my classes I would go back to the apartment where I was staying and have dinner with my host family and roommate.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

La Sagrada Familia

What is something you enjoyed doing outside of your coursework?

The AIFS program had an included trip to the Pyrenees, which was by far my favorite. Most of the program went on this trip so it was nice to have a weekend away with everyone. It was great to have a change of scenery from the city life for a few days. When we were there, everyone was in there rooms relaxing before dinner when the power went out. All of us went in the hallways to see what was going on and we ended up all going downstairs to sit around and just hang out and play card games. Everyone enjoyed just hanging out with each other that when the power came back on everyone had decided to come back and play after dinner as well.

What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?

I chose to stay with a host family for this semester. At first I was very hesitant and nervous but it ended up being one of my favorite parts of the experience. It really forced me to experience the culture, which is what I had originally wanted to do. I got very lucky with my host family because they are some of the nicest people I have ever met. It was tough at first because they didn't speak any English, but luckily my roommate and I have taken enough Spanish to be able to get along in the language. I think I liked the ease of it the best. It was helpful to have the traditional experience of dinner with the family. It was very nice to have a family atmosphere which helped make me feel so much more comfortable there.

How has studying abroad impacted your life so far?

I definitely see this experience having an impact on my life. It has definitely caused me to be more open minded about differences in all aspects of my life. One of the biggest things studying abroad has taught me has been patience. When someone is placed in a culture that is so different than the norm, it is easy to become frustrated while living there; this was true for me, especially in the beginning of the semester. Once I took the time to embrace the differences and see past the little struggles, I was able to appreciate everything and have the best few months of my life.