Reid Edelstein ‘23 shares insight and lessons learned from a semester abroad.
Given my passion for speaking Spanish and the fact that Europe was my global focus, I knew I wanted to spend a semester in Spain to fulfill my Global Commerce Study Abroad requirement. And while Sevilla, Spain, was not originally on my radar, I learned the program there would allow me to live in a homestay and take classes fully in Spanish, providing me with the full cultural immersion I was seeking. I knew it was going to challenging, but it was something that I felt ready to do. In the end, my semester there in fall 2021 exceeded my expectations and proved to be life-changing, both academically and personally.
I went to Sevilla knowing there would be obvious differences from my life back home and that I would need to be prepared to adapt to a new situation. However, I was most surprised to learn just how many similarities I found between the people of these two places.
In Sevilla, I had the privilege of living with a wonderful host family. Blanca, Manolo, and their daughter, Rocio, welcomed me into their home with open arms and treated me as their own. I found that the warmth, care, and consideration they gave me were not unlike what I experience at home in Atlanta with my parents and my sister. As I encountered various cultural differences—the language, the food, the lifestyle (late mornings, and very late evenings!) — my host family was always there to support me and help me navigate my way.
One of the things that we often talk about in Global Commerce is the importance of making connections and building relationships across differences of culture and language. My homestay in Sevilla gave me the opportunity to experience this for myself. When my family came to visit me in Spain, Blanca & Manolo hosted a beautiful lunch and we sat around the table eating delicious food and talking for hours, even though my parents don’t speak Spanish, and Blanca and Manolo know no English! It was then that I truly realized that although people can grow up in completely different cultures, on opposite sides of the world, they can still share ideals and opinions.
This experience taught me that as I move forward in my professional life it’s important to look for similarities that will help me establish connections, despite any cultural differences that might exist.