My name is Marissa Madison and I am a second semester junior on the Babson women's tennis team. I am from Columbus, Ohio, and this fall semester I studied abroad for four months in Barcelona, Spain. The time flew by very quickly. Going into the semester, I knew that being away from home for four months would be tough, but also knew that this would help me grow personally. I went into this past semester with a few intentions: to grow personally and professionally, to meet new people, and to make sure that I would not end the experience with any regrets.
Growing personally and professionally definitely started out a little rocky. This was my first time living in a big city which included a language that I could hardly understand. After a few weeks of struggling on the Metro (Barcelona's version of public transportation), learning the basic ways of communication, and surrounding myself with people who were in the same boat as me, I got the hang of it. I no longer had to search each stop for the Metro or google maps my way around the city- I now knew where I was going. Coming from a small town, it was definitely difficult immersing myself in the Barcelona community at first. While Boston is a big city, we are not fully immersed in actual city life. Barcelona pushed me to realize that I could live and thrive anywhere. Being in such an unfamiliar situation, Barcelona definitely showed me how easily I can adapt to a new lifestyle, providing confidence for my future endeavors.
Meeting new people can be difficult when you are in a new place and just want to surround yourself with those who make you comfortable. Once I arrived in Barcelona, I knew I had to put myself out there in order to meet all sorts of new people. My experience abroad would have not been the same without my Babson friends or new friends that I met abroad. Abroad provided a deeper connection with these friends. I will never forget standing on the top of Positano staring at the vast ocean with my friends or just walking through Paris with them. Traveling the world with these people created a quick and unbreakable bond that I am so grateful for.
Studying in Europe provided the incredible opportunity to easily travel to many other countries. Over the four months, I was able to travel with my friends to seven different countries: Italy (Amalfi Coast, Milan), Germany (Berlin, Munich), Portugal (Lisbon), Ireland (Dublin), France (Paris), England (London) and the Czech Republic (Prague). Each of these cities were so diverse and full of rich history. Ending these four months without any regrets meant packing a lot of information and tours in a very small amount of time, usually three days. We always made it a point to visit the historical sites in each city and to try at least one food that was part of the area's cuisine. We definitely had to be open-minded when it came to some of these experiences! I learned so much about all of these cities and countries- their cultures, history, language, and food. I will never forget any of the experiences I had and will cherish these memories forever. While it was amazing to travel every weekend, sometimes it was nice to stay in Barcelona and explore the city even more. Traveling so many weekends showed me how much I appreciated the city I was calling home for four months.
Overall, my semester in Barcelona was the best four months of my life. Thanks to the help of Glavin Office, my advisors at Babson, and my coaches, I was prepared and encouraged to study abroad. Being a D3 athlete is very special because we work hard and love our sport but also have the privilege to be able to have experienced a semester abroad. I learned how capable and independent I can be and realized that sometimes you have to do things that make you uncomfortable to grow as a person! I believe that my time abroad not only helped me grow as a person but professionally as well. I will be able to connect with those who also love to travel and talk about so many of the different cities I traveled to. While I will miss walking by the gorgeous Sagrada Familia every day, I am very excited to return to Babson for my spring season. I would encourage all athletes to go abroad if they have the chance and if anyone has questions, I am so excited to share my experiences with you!