City Music Boston Scholar Grace Mann traveled to Spain for the Fall 2015 semester to study abroad. Below is a guest post about her experience at the Berklee Valencia campus.
When people ask me how Valencia was, I’ve developed a habit of saying, “Warmer than Boston” as if sunny weather was all the little city had to offer. Don’t get me wrong, shorts in November is a phenomenon I think every person should have the privilege of enjoying at some point in their life, but it was not the sole reason I’d encourage everyone to study abroad. The opportunity to live in a foreign country doesn’t present itself too often. Musicians may tour, families may travel, but these experiences provide mere glimpses of a culture. Living in Valencia for an entire semester granted me the time to explore.
At least once a day I found myself nestled inside La Pequeña Patselería de Mama drinking a café con leche and eating a croissant. It was one of my favorite hideaways from school. Run by only three women, every cup of coffee, every piece of cake, every stack of pancakes felt personal. I loved stumbling through my Spanish with them because they were always willing to help me figure out what I was trying to say. Valencia is filled with nooks and crannies just like Mma’s. Some students like me had a favorite coffee shop and a favorite restaurant, others had a favorite bar and a favorite club. Whatever your preference, Valencia is home to places that make you feel at home.
Studying abroad in Valencia also supplies endless opportunities for travelling. Flying in Europe is an extremely different experience than in the United States. Websites such as Vueling and Ryanair provide access to cheap flights all around the EU. Along with flights, Europe also has a fairly simple train network. Since I studied abroad in the Fall semester, I chose to stay in Europe for winter break and I know others who have stayed well into summer after Spring semester. Other students take advantage of their weekends and travel then. During my 5 months in Europe, my primary residence was in Valencia, but I had the opportunity to explore 6 countries, 15 different towns and cities.
Studying abroad may sound daunting, but it’s not as intimidating as you think. You have the chance to explore a new country and a new part of yourself while also having the comfort of an entire study abroad class by your side. I encourage anyone who is thinking about it and maybe having hesitations to reach out to an alumni of the program like myself. We will have answers to all the questions you think aren’t worth asking!