Sarah Szuba - 2017 Program Participant

What inspired you to go abroad?

I was inspired to go abroad because I had previously spent three weeks studying in Ireland and the travel bug bit me. I knew I wanted to continue to explore and really wanted to immerse myself in a completely different culture for a longer period of time.

Beach in Barcelona, Spain
Beach in Barcelona

Why did you choose Global Experiences?

I chose Global Experiences after hearing from a friend what an amazing time he had, filled with opportunities to grow as a student into a young professional. After looking further into the program, I knew Global Experiences would give me the support and opportunities I was looking for to explore what working abroad is like.

What was your favorite part about Barcelona?

There is no way I could pick one thing that was my favorite in beautiful Barcelona. I fell in love with the city, the culture, the people, and the food. Barcelona is special in that it has a variety of cultures and traditions. I felt comfort in meeting people from all over the world, but also learning about an entirely different language and the Catalan culture that makes Barcelona unique to any other city in Spain. 

What made your experience abroad unique?

The company that I was placed with, Social Coin, made my experience much more unique and interesting. Aiming to engage citizens and employees, the company believes everyone has the potential to do good acts of kindness, and paying it forward after is how you continue your chain of kindness. 

Working with such a forward-thinking company was really inspiring and rewarding. I truly felt like I was making a difference and left feeling motivated to continue to spread their mission.
International interns with local colleagues in Barcelona, Spain
With colleagues outside the office

How did local staff support you throughout your program?

The Barcelona coordinator for Global Experiences, Inma, was an amazing mentor to me. She checked in often to make sure I was comfortable in the city and enjoying the opportunities I was being given in my internship. I always knew I could contact her with questions - even when I wanted suggestions for the best paella and places with free salsa lessons. 

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

I really tried to take every opportunity to put myself out there and experience the culture of Barcelona, but if I would do anything differently I would've gone to language meetups to try to advance my Spanish. It was difficult to find time for everything I wanted to do while also practicing my Spanish, but I don't regret anything because I took advantage of a lot of things that Barcelona has to offer.

Describe a typical day in the life of your program.

A typical day would be me taking the metro to work around 9 a.m., grabbing a croissant and cafe con leche from my favorite cafe on the way. Our office environment was very open with tables to work with other colleagues rather than separate in a cubicle setting. I would prioritize and work on whatever was needed that day, which was always different and kept things interesting. 

We had lunch as a team everyday, typically outside if the weather permitted it. We usually wrapped things up around 6 p.m., occasionally grabbing a drink after work to relax a bit with coworkers. I really appreciated that aspect, it wasn't all work, no play; it is important to bond as a team outside of the office as well - which I think is sometimes forgotten in other companies.

International interns at Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, Spain
Parc de la Ciutadella

What did you enjoy doing in your free time? 

In my free time, especially on weekends, I would try to see something I hadn't explored yet. Whether it was hiking up Tibidabo with friends, taking the train to Sitges for Carnival, or just grabbing a beer with friends down by the beach, I always tried to take advantage of free time to enjoy the city. 

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

My accommodations were wonderful! I was in a nine person flat with people from all different programs. I chose to be in a bigger apartment so I had the opportunity to meet different people from different countries. I lived with Americans, Italians, a Mexican, a German, and a Slovakian - some only for a short time and others for the whole three months. 

What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?

Keep an open mind. You get out of the experience as much as you put into it. The more open you are, the more people you will meet and the more opportunities you will have to encounter amazing, once in a lifetime experiences. It's an opportunity to learn and grow, and if you keep an open mind - you will be amazed at the things you did in a short three months. 

Park Güell, Barcelona, Spain
Park Güell

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life? 

Being back in the States, I feel like I am back in the bubble of the U.S., which isn't a bad thing - but I know that I definitely want to travel more. I am eager to return to a place filled with culture and foreign opportunities that push me outside my comfort zone. I am graduating from college this year and want to continue to gain experience in the field, but my ultimate goal is to return to my home away from home in a year or so to find work there. I fell in love with Barcelona and the variety of culture and experiences it has to offer.

Would you recommend Global Experiences others? Why?

Absolutely! Global Experiences far exceeded my expectations and that is all thanks to their devoted staff. They make sure to prepare you in any way they can prior to your departure, and continue to support you throughout your time abroad. I have already recommended the program to numerous friends. It is the best way to spend time abroad while also gaining relevant work experience.