Note: This story also appears in the December/January issue of the Sho'men Club Newsletter. To become a member of the Sho'men Club, click here.
Women's swimmer Morgan Phillips spent the fall semester in Spain and writes about her experience from the Iberian Peninsula. Here is her experience.
I made the decision to come to Washington College three years ago based on the size and community feel, and knowing that it was the type of school that made doors fly open for you. Being a big fish in a small pond makes all the difference when it comes to once in a lifetime opportunities like studying abroad. For student-athletes, spending an entire semester in a foreign country is not even an option at larger schools. Nearly on the other side of my four month stay in Spain now, I cannot imagine my life without all of the incredible experiences I have had and I have WAC to thank for that!
Before flying over in September, I had most of the same feelings that I did before leaving for college for the first time. I have wanted to study abroad ever since my sister spent a semester in London her junior year of college and it honestly was a big part of why I came to Washington College. When the time finally came for me to ship out though, it was a really surreal feeling. I'll never forget flying into the city and seeing the mountains for the first time. I had been traveling for almost 24 hours, was nervous and overwhelmed, but when I looked out of the plane window and saw the gorgeous Sierra Nevadas, I knew that Granada was the place for me.
The next few weeks I spent exploring the city and getting to know the other people in my program. Washington College partners with the University of Delaware for their semester in Granada so I was fortunate enough to be able to go over with an automatic group of friends who made the transition much easier. We also had five weekend trips to eight different cities in Spain that were already set up and paid for by my program fee. We of course went to the major cities like Barcelona, Madrid, Córdoba and Sevilla, but we also got to see smaller towns I would not have otherwise visited. One of my favorite trips was our first to a little beach town named Almuñecar. I got to go cliff jumping in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean surrounded by mountains.
The following three months were a whirlwind of traveling and experiences. I visited seven countries in addition to Spain and it seemed like each weekend, in Granada or elsewhere, I was having 'the best weekend of my life'. Whether I was hiking into the olive fields to watch the sunset over the Alhambra, running into friends from the states at Oktoberfest or flying to London for the Harry Potter 7 premier, I was constantly in disbelief that this semester was real life.
Now, I only have three weeks left here and I still cannot believe all of the opportunities I have been granted and how much I have been able to see. I will be taking back to the states with me (in addition to the story of almost spending the night in a Slovakian train yard…) the feeling of having the world literally at my fingertips. In Europe, I learned how to not get caught up in the mindset of everything being planned out for me already. This semester literally stretched my boundaries to include an entire world of options, and I am so grateful for that!