Hello fellow Centennial peers,
Summer is ending and we’re all ready for another wonderful semester. How was your summer? Was it as memorable as mine!? If you haven’t heard of the Centennial GEO office or their study abroad programs then this is the blog post for you!
My name is Jack, and I’m going into my fifth semester at Progress for Automation and Robotics.
For the past two summers, I and many other Centennial students have participated in month-long Language and Culture programs abroad through the GEO summer abroad program in Spain. Both experiences have broadened my horizons and opened my mind to infinite ideas on how to apply my area of study to everyday issues. It has made me a better person (I hope), and allowed me to pick up some basic Spanish.
What’s in it for you? Why should you participate?
Let me take you through my summer Spanish journey, the people I met and the things I’ve learned. You decide for yourself if a summer abroad is worth your time and money.
For me, this summer was one word: amazing! For the first four weeks, myself and three other Centennial students studied Spanish language and culture in Logrono, La Rioja – the wine capital of Spain. We met other students from New York, Utah, San Diego, Germany, Italy, China, Korea. Friendships and bonds were forged through field trips and going out at night into the old town for tapas and dancing! On weekends, we made trips to other major cities.
We experienced everything from the beauty of San Sebastian’s coast line, the modern architecture of Bilbao, the world famous art in Barcelona, to of course, Pamplona for the Fiesta de Sanfermin, aka “The Running of the Bulls” made famous by Hemmingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”. Pearl, I assure you, none of us ran with the bulls.
When it was time to bid farewell and say ‘hasta luego’ to all our new friends, I embarked on a 30 day trek through northern Spain called the “Camino del Norte”. I hiked up mountains and lost myself in spectacular vistas from San Sebastian to Bilbao. Bilbao to Santander took my breath away with magnificent beaches and the sea meeting rivers and valleys. I swam in the Cantabrian Sea on lunch breaks to beat the afternoon heat. From Santander to Gijon, I walked along cliffs to find hidden beaches inland and along the coast; more beach days don’t hurt after 20 km morning marches.
On my journey to the final destination of Santiago de Compostella, everyday melted together into a rhythmic dance of steps, rest stops, and taking in the moments. A life changing journey!
However, it was the people I met this summer that made it spectacular as it was. My fellow classmates in Logrono, new friends from New York, Utah, and Italy all infused my mind with new ideas, new perspectives, and new information about different topics and cultures.
The people of the Camino were unique individuals sharing an unique adventure with random strangers from around the world. Each and every person along my journey has influenced me and has been influenced by me in a positive way and taught me valuable life lessons. No amount of money can equate to such an experience. Thank you all!
And finally, what I learned. Well I learned that people are people. Regardless of their culture or background, they all want the same thing at the end of the day: safety, health, and social contact. We, as Canadians, are privileged to have many of those things given to us just by being Canadians. So my word to you the reader: take advantage of these GEO study abroad programs. Broaden your horizon, experience the world and meet awesome people. After, take the new you and make the world better for everyone else that lives in it, especially those less fortunate.
But it all starts with you. You need to have an open mind, an open heart, be humble and wise to know that there’s always something new to learn and someone out there that can teach you. Next time the GEO email makes it to your inbox, open it and apply for an unforgettable summer abroad! Or go to the GEO office located in the International Office at Progress Campus!
Jack Yin, Automation and Robotics
2015 Summer Abroad – Language and Culture, Logrono, Spain