Discover Study Abroad: Alicante, Spain

One of the great things about studying abroad is the ability to completely customize your experience to your goals you have in college! These experiences give students the ability to learn so much more about the world around them and the people they can meet – this was no different for Nick. Read below to learn about his winter break spent in Alicante, Spain, and what he did to make the most of his experience!

I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In my third year at the University of Iowa, I am currently working toward a degree in finance and a certificate in international business. My intention is to graduate in December 2022. As a freshman at the University, my plan was to complete my degree in three years, because I had earned college credit at Xavier High School. I had hopes to study abroad during the winter term of both my second and third year of college, but when the pandemic persisted, those plans were put on hold. In the fall of 2021, when I realized that the trip to Alicante, Spain was a possibility for the winter term, I knew that I needed to try to make it happen. It seemed that everything had spiraled out of my control for the previous eighteen months, and this was an opportunity to do something I had dreamed of. My sister had traveled to Alicante right before the pandemic started in 2020. She shared exciting details with me and encouraged me to go.

On December 26, 2021, I began my journey from the Cedar Rapids airport. The COVID restrictions and staff shortages presented many challenges on the way there. I ended up spending over 18 hours in the Minneapolis airport. But once I arrived in Spain, I was assured that all the trials had been worth it. Alicante is a city in the province of Valencia, on the Mediterranean Sea. The harbor was one of my favorite areas. Seeing all the beautiful boats and the Castle of Santa Barbara in the background is an image I will never forget.

The harbor in Alicante, Spain. I will never forget the number of boats here in the beautiful water.

Over the next three weeks, I had an incredible experience. While there, I took a class on the European Union offered through the University of Alicante. The course, while interesting and relevant to my study of international business, was not the highlight. I was grateful for my instructor who was understanding of our interest in everything outside of the classroom. We visited museums, the largest aquarium in Europe, the cities of Valencia and Murcia, and I saw what many believe to be the Holy Grail.

More than just seeing the attractions, I was instantly taken with the lifestyle. Everyone on the streets walks slowly. There is siesta at 2pm and crowds are on the streets at all hours of the day and night. It was a very interesting dynamic of activity and tranquility at the same time. The people of Alicante just seemed to understand something about life that Americans do not. I found myself feeling happy – the kind of feeling that has seemed unattainable for the last year and a half.  Of course, the mild weather and sunshine boosted my mood, especially when I learned that there was snow and sub-zero temperatures in Iowa. Walking on any beach in January is a treat, but walking on the beach in Alicante, and seeing the impossibly blue water, was more special than I ever imagined.

This is the cathedral in Valencia, Spain where the Holy Grail is displayed.

It was my hope that this opportunity might allow me to meet other students and widen my circle of friends. My roommates, Adam and Danny, and I hit it off immediately and were able to spend a lot of time together exploring the area. We have stayed in touch since returning home, and I am planning to visit each of them in the next year. I have really missed getting to know new people and socializing during the pandemic. This experience was exactly what I needed to remind myself of how important these connections are. Of course, I missed my family while I was away but developing new friendships and exploring a new place truly kept me in the moment. I did not waste any time feeling homesick; I was determined to make the most of my short time in Alicante.

Besides making new friends, another goal I had for this trip was to practice my Spanish. During middle and high school, I took 5 years of Spanish classes. However, after several years of not using it, my skills were a little rusty! I was able to converse, although sometimes this was difficult due to the dialect in the area. This experience has motivated me to brush up on my language skills before returning to Spain. Throughout my study abroad, I was inspired and challenged in ways I had never been before. I realized how much there was to learn about the world by traveling to foreign countries. I found myself thinking about all the other places I would like to visit and learn about during my lifetime. My appreciation for the idea of life-long learning has grown, and I will continue to search for innovative ways to learn, even when I am not traveling. As a college student, it is easy to get caught up in the idea of earning credit and taking the classes needed to earn a degree. Studying abroad reminded me that I will forever be a student and that there is a great big world that is my classroom.

Author Bio:

Nick Recker is a junior at the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa, studying finance and international business. He is from Marion, Iowa. Nick’s parents both graduated from Iowa and his two older sisters are also UI grads. His photo below was taken while sightseeing in Spain!

Edited by: Delaney McDowell, Honors Student Admin


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