Barcelona lies on the Northern coast of Spain, not far from the border of France. It is a combination of mountains and sea, facing the Mediterranean on the Iberian Peninsula with the Pyrenees Mountains at its back. Barcelona is the capital of the community of Catalunya, which is marked by a distinct dialect and rich culture.

Ever since I was a junior in high school, I have dreamed about going to Barcelona. In a Spanish class, a favorite teacher of mine assigned a semester long project to plan an entire trip there. After planning this imaginary trip, I was determined to make it a reality.

It’s hard to believe that in a few short days I will be living on my own in another country. This year I will be an incoming Junior journalism major at the University of Rhode Island, and I saw this point in my education to be the perfect opportunity to go abroad.

For the fall semester, I will be studying abroad in Barcelona, where I will live with a host family, and attend school at the main university in the city, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. My host will be a 30-year-old woman, Yolanda, and I will be living with her in an apartment on the same street as one of the most famous pieces of architecture in the world, The Sagrada Família Basílica, in the heart of the city.

I find a lot of people asking me why I have decided to go abroad, and there are a few reasons. For starters, I grew up in Exeter, Rhode Island, which is no more than 20 minutes from URI. As much as I love good old Rhody, I felt it was time for a change of scenery. I will be going from the smallest state in the Union to the second largest metropolis in Spain.

I also owe much of my wanderlust to my family. When I was 14, my grandparents took my whole extended family, 14 of us, to Tuscany, Italy for a week. This trip opened my eyes to how much of the world there was that I had never seen. Ever since that trip I have craved to travel to another country again, but this time with the ability to fully immerse myself in the culture.

As I write this a few days before my trip, I’ll admit, I’m a little scared. I’ll be in a place with a new language, new people and living in a new home.  But I think that’s just part of the process. Part of going abroad is developing the ability to overcome these obstacles, and embracing the new world you’re being immersed in.

On this trip, my goal is to leave the baggage I carry along with me (no pun intended), at the door. In order to make the most of this adventure, I want to leave prior fears and judgments behind and step outside of my comfort zone every single day. Some of it may be daunting, and some might be comical, but I hope to share my experiences every week with my community back home.

I can’t believe that when you read this, I’ll be in Spain!  I land September 2 at Barcelona International Airport, and begin the trip of a lifetime. Each following week I will continue this column and share my experiences thus far. While immersing myself in the Catalan culture, I hope to learn about people and traditions from all over the world, and from that, a lot about myself. Here I will write about my trips within Spain and throughout Europe, sharing the things I have learned and hopefully some of my best experiences with you all! I look forward to writing about my first week soon – hasta luego!