By Megan Randall, Learning Abroad coordinator
Nick Wallman, a senior marketing major at the U, just completed an experience of a lifetime, a Learning Abroad program in Barcelona, Spain. He participated in an international business program through one of Learning Abroad’s approved affiliates, Cultural Experiences Abroad.
Megan Randall, a Learning Abroad coordinator at the U, had the chance to catch up with Wallman in Barcelona in November 2016 while she was on a site visit. Read her interview with Wallman below.
What has surprised you the most about your experience so far?
Everything about my Learning Abroad experience has surprised me so far. Going into my experience, I did not do a lot of research on Spain or Europe in general. I wanted to get to Barcelona knowing very little, and then be able to learn and experience the country as I was studying here. This approach has turned out awesome for me because I have been able to think about the culture, values and people without having a preconceived idea about what my experience was going to be like. The thing that has surprised me the most on my trip so far is the culture of Spain in general. I did not realize how late everyone stays up or how long it takes people to finish their meals. I didn’t know how to properly greet people or that people would stare at me on the Metro. I also did not realize how passionate people in Barcelona are about Catalonia and how open everyone is when you get to know them and share your opinions about a topic.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of Learning Abroad?
There are so many benefits to going on a Learning Abroad program that I can’t even name them all or even begin to count them. One of the biggest benefits I have seen is the ability for you to grow individually and start to think on your own while you are abroad. While I have been abroad, I have been challenged everyday with simple tasks like trying to find dish soap in the grocery store, to more complicated tasks such as figuring out how to get from the airport to my hostel at midnight in Berlin, Germany. These constant obstacles help you to grow and feel more comfortable when faced with challenges. They have helped me to see that if you take them one step at a time, you can accomplish anything that is thrown at you.
How are your courses abroad enhancing what you’ve already learned at the U?
My courses abroad are enhancing what I have learned at the U because they are putting my business classes into a more global context than what I have learned at the U. They are building on the awesome foundation that the University of Utah classes have put in place for me and solidifying my knowledge of global business. Being in classes with students from all over the world lets you see different perspectives that you might not have seen before and teaches you new skills and values that you could use if you ever did business internationally.
How have you been communicating with you friends and family at home during your time abroad?
I try to keep in contact with my friends and family at least once a week to once every other week. I have an international plan on my phone so I have been able to make calls and texts easily. I have also been using Facebook messenger, WhatsApp and GroupMe to keep in contact with many of my friends and family. It was tricky at the beginning figuring out the time change and when is best to contact them, but after the first couple of weeks you start figuring it out.
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me usually consists of waking up around 7:30 to 8 a.m., eating some breakfast and then getting ready for the day. I will usually ride the metro to school in the morning and then walk back home in the afternoons when I am not as rushed to be on time. After school or during lunch break I will usually stop at a cafe or my favorite sandwich shop, Bo de B, and grab a quick bite before I have to head back to class. When I am done with classes for the day I will come home and unwind for a bit before studying or finishing some homework. I usually cook dinner with my roommates or go out to eat at one of the millions of restaurants around the city. After we have had some dinner, we usually walk around the city and explore new plazas and cafes. Afterwards, we usually hang out and talk with our friends until pretty late.
How are you preparing to come home from your program?
I am preparing to come home by buying my Snowbird ski pass and watching ski videos to get me pumped for the season. I am catching up with friends and family, letting them know I will be coming home and want to catch up with them. I have been grabbing all my friends’ numbers from Barcelona to be able to keep up with them and going out with my Spanish friends a couple more times. I have been looking for a place to live in Salt Lake and have signed up for the last classes of my college career.
Is there anything else you want to add or share with us about your experience so far?
I highly recommend a Learning Abroad experience to anyone who wants to push themselves personally and educationally. You will learn things you never would have imagined and push yourself through obstacles you never thought you could. I pushed back my college career to experience a Learning Abroad semester and I will never regret it.
Since this interview, Wallman finished his Learning Abroad program and is completing his degree.
If you are interested in participating in a Learning Abroad program like Wallman to make the most of your education at the U, there are many ways you can get involved as a future, current or returned student. Check out Learning Abroad’s events calendar to see upcoming events, attend the Learning Abroad Spring Fair on Jan. 25 or follow Learning Abroad on social media. Also, feel free to stop by Union 159, call 801-581-5849 or email anytime.