Meagan Castro-Lopez - 2015 Program Participant
What inspired you to go abroad?
I had just graduated from college and my life wasn't progressing according to plan. There were plenty of interviews, but no offers. Instead of seeing my situation as a setback, I decided to make it into an opportunity. No school, no husband, no kids, no mortgage, no "requesting off" of work. If any time was more perfect to go abroad for a few months I wasn't going to wait around for it!
Holi Festival, Barcelona, Spain
Why did you choose Global Experiences?
After four and half years in college, I needed a break from higher education. My resume needed a little attention as well. I decided I wanted to intern abroad! And what's the first thing anyone does when we need more information in this day and age? That's right, I googled "internships abroad". Global Experiences (GE) was the first company I came across that didn't seem like a complete scam. The inclusions were also one of the major reasons I picked GE. I knew there would be nothing to worry about once I reached Spain!
What was your favorite part about Barcelona?
My favorite thing about Barcelona was there was always something to do! Any day of the week we could go to a festival, concert, or amazing dinner. Everything was surprisingly affordable, as well. Three course meal and a bottle of wine? Count me in!
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
What made your program experience unique?
What makes GE unique is their commitment to cultural immersion. Instead of living in a dorm or a hoste,l your neighbors and coworkers are native Spaniards. But don't worry, GE doesn't just drop participants in a foreign country to sink or swim. You will learn the language and the customs and if you have any problems or questions there are a local coordinator is there to help. Even though you are independent and treated like an adult, you will never truly be alone.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Our onsite coordinator was definitely one of the reasons I chose GE. As she was a Barcelona citizen, she was there to help out with any issue or question I had about living in Spain. Finding a plunger in a foreign country is harder than you think…
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish I would have brought more things from home! There are so many little things I didn't bring because I figured I would just buy them there. However, there's no "one stop shop," like Target or Walgreen's, around the corner. Each little shop is specialized and all over town! Also, I knew I was going to be working in Germany for a few weeks. I could have saved a TON of money if I had bought a Spanish and German sim card at the same time.
Describe a day in the life of your program.
On a typical work day I'd roll out of bed and try to look as trendy as possible with my limited wardrobe I brought from home (thanks Delta and your one bag limit). Everyone in Barcelona knows how to dress, so not accessorizing immediately pegs you as a tourist. Scarves, scarves, and more scarves.
The metro station was a convenient block and a half from my apartment and took me right the plaza by work with only one transfer. Around 1 p.m. (or 13:00 in Europe) a group of us would go get lunch during our hour break and then it was back to work until 5 p.m. After work I would head home and relax for a little while before meeting up with my friends to get dinner.
What was your favorite thing ito do on your free time?
One of my favorite things, outside of my internship, was the ability to travel. Flying is so much easier and cheaper in Europe, and it was great to take those opportunities to see everything from Oktoberfest to coastal villages, as well as sunny islands and Islamic culture.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
My favorite part of everyday was coming home and unlocking the front gate of my Barcelona apartment. It was then I felt most like a citizen, a Barcelonan, and not just a tourist or Erasmus student. Our apartment was absolutely amazing. Clean, spacious, up to date, and if we had any issue whatsoever our landlord was there (usually that same day) to make sure it was solved. We had not one but TWO balconies. We even had AIR CONDITIONING! It's an essential in many parts of the U.S., but a luxury abroad; don't take it for granted!!
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
The main reason I wanted to intern abroad was that I felt unsuccessful because I didn't have a job offer right after graduation. Living in Spain helped me realize I need to slow down, like the Spaniards do, and enjoy life! Life shouldn't be measured by corporate success or how expensive your possessions are. Instead, I've refocused my life on how many amazing memories I can make and wonderful people I can meet.