Ever flirted with the idea of studying abroad, but you’re just not quite ready to jump on a plane to a foreign country? OUTLOUD writer Rachel LeWinter has embarked on a journey to Barcelona this semester and will be sharing her experiences with you each month. Be sure to catch Rachel’s column in subsequent issues to get a glimpse of what studying abroad is really like.
Zero in the States means exactly what it says: nothing, zilch, nada. In Europe…not so much. Imagine booking a free plane ticket to an entirely different country. Over here, for just the cost of taxes, you can travel to a different country, broaden your cultural knowledge, hear a different language and have an adventure of a lifetime.
I bought a round-trip plane ticket to Prague for 0 Euro. After taxes and fees it came out to 44 Euro, which is roughly 56 dollars. Although finding a plane ticket for 0 Euro is pretty rare, cheap travel within Europe is not. With many options for traveling (plane, train, bus, etc), it is extremely easy to get around Europe. People in the United States may only get to take one vacation a year, but in Europe, it is not uncommon to take a holiday any weekend you feel like it.
I think this concept correlates a lot with the Spanish lifestyle. In Barcelona, there is an enormous emphasis on leisure, taking your time, and thoroughly enjoying what you do. It’s a big change from the fast-paced, live to work, 12-hour day that seems to prevail in the States. The attitude here is more “work to live” rather than “live to work.” I’ve been forced to literally slow down, take a step back, and live and enjoy the moment, because once it is passed, it’s gone forever.
The people here are full of life and energy, and although work may not be their number one priority, they have the knowledge that transcends the intelligence of any wall-street hotshot or big time lawyer. At home in Florida it was easy to get caught up in my own life, my immediate world that revolved around only me, and let insignificant details amount to more than they mattered. Living here and having easy access to countries all over the world has taught me that it is more important to live each day to the fullest and work so you can live, not the other way around; because in the end, all the money in the world can’t buy us another day. Or as the great 19th century writer John Ruskin put it, “There is no wealth but Life.”
Rachel is studying at Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, where she’s taking International Business classes. Email Rachel with your questions or comments to email@example.com. Or if you’ve traveled to Barcelona and know of any fab places Rachel should not miss, be sure to let her know.