Hannah Boehlert is an intern with the Education Abroad team at the International Studies Office here at UVA. Last spring semester, she studied on the UVA in Valencia program to finish our her 2nd year, on which she has shared a brief reflection!
From my study abroad experience, I really learned a lot about myself. This sounds extremely cliché, but this is one of the first times of my life where after a certain experience, I can pinpoint specific things that I really developed, or things that I discovered about myself that I never knew. For example, I love spending time with friends, but study abroad really taught me how much I value and need alone time. I like being pushed out of my comfort zone, but I usually won’t do it myself, so I value having friends who are a bit more adventurous than me! I’m more of a night owl than a morning person, I’m more of a leader than a follower, and I’m not at all go-with-the-flow. These may seem like minor discoveries, but they have already begun to shape how I’m living my last two years at UVA. I’ve been inspired to meet friends, take the lead on projects, and join new clubs — all of which I know wouldn’t have happened without my four months in Valencia.
I really didn’t feel too sad during my first few weeks back in the U.S. I had missed my friends and family a lot, so I was enjoying my time with them and the freedom/relaxed nature of summer. It wasn’t until the summer students arrived in Valencia that I started to feel sentimental and sad. I typed up a huge list of advice and recommendations for two friends studying there, and I went through my photos of the whole semester, and then my nostalgia set in. I’m still happy to be home with my family and friends, but I am now able to realize how much my study abroad experience meant to me. I still get a bit wistful whenever I see photos of the students who are now in Valencia, but I’ve overcome these feelings by interning in the ISO. It’s really been great to encourage students to have the same incredible experiences that I did! I love putting my passion about Valencia by answering questions from prospective students and helping them along their study abroad journey.