Studying in Spain helps senior Garrett Wolf plan for postgraduate life
L'ocasió s'ha d'agafar pels pèls.
This Catalan saying literally translates to “opportunity must be grabbed by the hair,” but in English, we might know it better as “opportunity knocks only once.”
For Garrett Wolf, an IU Northwest political science and pre-law major, that opportunity was a seven-week summer study abroad trip to Barcelona, Spain. There, he spent much of his time studying the Spanish language and learning more about the city itself.
“One class was called Barcelona: The Cosmopolitan City, which dove into the origins and history of Barcelona,” he said. “It was a really great class to be in.”
In addition to his regularly scheduled classes, Wolf also took a cooking class where he and his friends made paella, a traditional Spanish dish. On weekends, he used his time to see other parts of Spain, including Madrid, Tarragona, and Valencia.
Education may be the main purpose of study abroad, but it certainly isn’t the only reason that students choose this exciting option. New experiences and new friendships often top the list.
“My best experiences in Spain were the friendships I made and the memories I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” Wolf said. “You meet people who are very similar to you, and you get to share those experiences.”
With so many cultural experiences to take advantage of, why might students shy away from studying abroad? The language barrier can be a major deterrent. After all, Spain is home to more languages than just Spanish, including Catalan, Galician, and Basque.
Nevertheless, Wolf believes that if you push through, anyone can adapt to the change. “The language barrier definitely took me out of my comfort zone. My Spanish evolved and progressed when I was there,” he said.
He hopes that one day he can use his improved Spanish skills to run for public office. Wolf cited the significant Spanish-speaking population in Northwest Indiana and said he finds it crucial to speak their language and understand their cultures.
Now that Wolf is back at IU Northwest, he’s taking the opportunity to learn more about public service as the president of the Student Government Association. He has several plans for the coming year.“
A big priority for us is providing free feminine hygiene products in all bathrooms on campus, as well as getting a sustainability plan in action,” he said. Along with his fellow officers, Wolf also wants to explore ways to pay student employees a living wage.
Wolf also wants to encourage other students to take advantage of all study abroad has to offer.
He said that students considering studying in another country should do their research before committing to a program. However, he also thinks there’s value in taking life as it comes.
“Just go with the flow,” Wolf said. “I had so many times where [my friends and I] set aside our schedules, and those spontaneous adventures were when we had the most fun.”
If there’s anything we can learn from Wolf, it’s to take the opportunities you’re presented with. No matter your area of study or personal interests, we can all benefit from seeing the world, exploring new cultures, and learning from new points of view.