Maria Lagrotteria (’20) on Studying Abroad

Where and when did you study abroad?

I studied abroad during the Spring semester of my sophomore year to Madrid, Spain.

Town of Segovia, Spain with a castle in the distance.

Why did you decide to study abroad?

Studying abroad was one of the main reasons that I came to OWU. When I heard about the OWU Connection I was hooked on the school. I always knew that I was going to travel abroad during my time in college, and it just sort of fell into place because of the Spanish program here at Ohio Wesleyan. I actually became a Spanish major because of my time abroad. Without spending my semester abroad in Madrid, I would not have been able to major in the discipline. 

Is there a particular experience that jumps out to you when thinking about your experiences abroad? 

I was actually able to travel a lot throughout Europe on my own. Even when I traveled with friends, I would still spend a lot of time on my own. I was able to see a lot of hidden gems in cities throughout Europe this way! I went on a Spring Break trip by myself to Palma de Mallorca, part of the Spanish Balearic Isles in the Mediterranean Sea. I planned the trip, in Spanish might I add, all by myself. This experience was one of the most impactful ones that I was able to have during my time in Europe. I learned how to take care of myself through this experience as well as others.

What was the most rewarding part of your study abroad experience?

I really appreciated the opportunity to travel abroad while not having very many responsibilities. I may never have the experience of not having so many responsibilities ever again, so it is something that I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

What places did you travel to while studying abroad? Do you have a favorite place that you visited? 

Church in Seville, Spain.

I have an extensive list of all of the cities that I traveled to on my notes app in my phone. Let me pull it up. I traveled to the following cities: Madrid, Spain; Segovia, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Paris, France; Seville, Spain; Cadiz, Spain; London, England; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Brussels, Belgium; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Rome, Italy.

Madrid will always have a special place in my heart, because that is where I spent the majority of my time. I really want to go back, and am actually planning a trip to Europe with my friend Makayla Trebella for after graduation. I told her that we have to make a stop in Madrid–it holds so many special memories for me.

Is there any advice that you have for students who are thinking about studying abroad?

PLAN! Plan for what you want to do when you are over there. Be adventurous, but safe. And don’t let the bigness of Europe scare you. There are a lot of opportunities for every personality out there and I would encourage you to look for these opportunities. Find a support system when you get there, too. Find friends who you can travel with!

What do you wish that you had done differently while studying abroad?

I regret not planning more early on. There were a lot of problems with my process of studying abroad up until the very day that I left. I had a really difficult time with my plane ticket getting to Madrid. I actually spent money on a ticket from a budget airline from the US to Spain, and a few days before I was scheduled to leave, I was notified that the travel times changed for my flight. With these changes, I would be unable to make it to Madrid on time, so I had to scramble to purchase another plane ticket and get my money back from the budget airline. I wish that it would have been easier, both on my part and on the part of others. However, after that experience, I made sure that I monitored my flight times for every place that I was traveling to, and didn’t have any other hiccups in that regard. 

 

**@maria_in_madrid on Instagram.

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