Back in 8th grade I began taking Spanish. At that time, I did not have a good reason to study another language except for the fact that it replaced art and music classes. As time went on, I thoroughly enjoyed learning a new language, but above all I was interested in the cultural aspect of my Spanish courses.
Throughout high school it was never an option for me to travel, in the United States or abroad. It was a dream of mine to study in Spain, but I never actually thought I would have the chance. When I was deciding which university to attend, one of the football coaches from Washington University told me it is encouraged at Wash U to study abroad, and the football team supports your decision. For the first time I realized it would be obtainable to live out my dream to study in Spain and finally see new parts of the world.
I took all of the prerequisite classes, planned my courses to allow for me to easily study abroad, and submitted all the paperwork necessary to go to Spain. Going into the summer I received a notification that I was accepted and reality finally set in. I was worried that I would not be able to adapt to a new culture, none of my friends were going to Spain for the semester, and I did not know if I could afford the trip.
I delayed sending in my commitment until the last hours before the deadline. Leading up to the decision, I spent many hours talking to family members or friends about what to do. Finally I decided to hit submit and figure everything out later, for me it was most important to realize my dream.
Kevin Kosiewicz and friends.
When I stepped off the plane in early January I had no idea what to expect. It was too late to go back and any fears or worries I had no longer mattered. On my cab ride over to the hotel I had my first experience speaking with the cab driver. I fumbled many of my words, was flustered, and felt overwhelmed by the situation. That night as I sat in my hotel room, all my worries returned back to me, and I thought maybe Madrid was not the right option for me.
Looking back now over the past two months, I cannot believe at any point I doubted the worth of study abroad, especially in Madrid.
Every day is better than the last, and I can confidently say the past 10 weeks have been better than any in my life. I am grateful to have traveled to many different cities throughout Spain as well as Europe.
It has been amazing to ride a camel on the beach in Morocco, spend an afternoon on the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona, go to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, overlook the city of Granada while at the Alhambra, and countless other experiences. I look forward to traveling to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day, visiting a fraternity brother in Istanbul, traveling through Italy with a best friend from high school, then going to Easter Mass at the Vatican. I also plan to visit the house of my great grandparents in Ireland. I am so thankful to experience these opportunities and so many others.
Kevin at the Eiffel Tower, Paris.
All of my trips have been amazing, and I definitely am excited to see more new places. However, the aspects I value most about my time in Europe are the friendships I have made with people from Spain and all around the world.
When I moved into Madrid the process of making new friends began with my host mom. I was worried about living in a homestay because I heard mixed reviews – people either loved it or they found it to be a burden. In addition, I requested to live without another American so I would not have the comfort of spending time with someone from back home.
Since day one this choice has worked out perfectly. I have built a wonderful relationship with my host mom. We talk about a wide variety of topics and she always helps me with cultural adjustments. My Spanish has improved more in two months than in all of my years in a class room. I value my time at meals with her and doing simple activities such as watching Spanish game shows or talking in the living room.
Camel ride in Morocco.
Besides establishing a great relationship with my host mom, living without an American roommate has helped me branch out. I now have made friends in countries such as Spain, Finland, Italy, France, England, Greece, Chile, Venezuela, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and other universities in the U.S. I have found it refreshing how open everyone is here to talk and share cultural experiences with new people. People are always open to go out for a drink or sit down for a meal.
Meeting the other students at my Spanish university has been my favorite part of studying at Carlos III. I have built friendships that will last a lifetime and hope to one day host many of my new friends in my home in America.
Some of the memories I will cherish most include going for runs in Parque Buen Retiro with these friends, going to their apartments to cook lunches, spending time in bars or cafes, talking about world issues or cultural differences, and going on trips throughout Madrid or Europe together. I am excited to continue building these relationships and meeting even more people throughout the world.
Overall, my time in Spain and Europe has been the best time of my life. I am extremely grateful to have this opportunity and will continue to maximize each day. I love expanding my world knowledge and meeting new friends. I know the initial positive experiences will only continue to get better, and I look forward to more great times to come.
Post by Kevin Kosiewicz, double major in Finance and Marketing, class of 2015