Harriet McCarthy

UPV Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain)

I am currently a third year Arts/Law student and in August of 2017 I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad for three and a half months. I opted to study in Valencia (Spain) so that I could immerse myself in the Spanish culture, language and lifestyle. My time abroad was without a doubt, the greatest experience of my life and I absolutely implore anyone that is reading this to open their mind to the idea, because it very well could be the best thing you ever do.


I was unable to study any of my law units abroad, so instead I decided to use my Bachelor of Arts electives. If I haven’t sold you on study abroad thus far – I think this might. My subjects abroad were Sailing in the Mediterranean (This literally involved three hours of deep sea sailing once a week), Dances of Spain (I never thought I would see myself attempting the salsa), International Business, Biology and Spanish language. I returned from Spain having obtained an abundance of knowledge from each of these units yet I was still able to enjoy myself and maintain a busy social life whilst I was over there.


In Spain I was constantly busy with social activities. Prior to arriving in Valencia I backpacked around a few countries which I highly recommend and upon arrival we enjoyed a meet and greet and walking tour of Valencia, our new home. Every week the University organised excursions for us exchange students which included venturing into the countryside of Spain, trying all of the best Paella and sangria, and even visiting Europe’s biggest aquarium – all costs covered. Moreover, I barely remember a weekend where my new friends and I didn’t travel to another country – Paris one weekend, Germany, Amsterdam, Scotland, Croatia and even Morocco in Africa one weekend. Every weekend we saw a new place, tried a new cuisine and met new people. I also immensely enjoyed the living situation, sharing an entire apartment building with 50 of your new best friends from all over the globe.


Say YES to everything (okay, maybe not everything, but everything and anything that you’ll enjoy and that will push you out of your comfort zone). I went into my experience ready to try absolutely everything and completely jump outside of my comfort zone. I didn’t know any Spanish before I left, but every day I learned more and more (maybe brush up of the language of the country you’re going to at least a little bit though, it was definitely difficult being as clueless as I was as to what people were saying!) Be open to new people and a new culture and try and go somewhere where you’ll be forced to meet new people rather than staying in your own clicks. My abroad experience changed me SO much and allowed me to grow into a more outgoing, confident and happy person. Lastly, definitely consider the option of staying abroad for a whole year because if I could change one thing, that would be it. Four months just wasn’t long enough!


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