Name: Natasha

Age: 18

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia, USA

Explored: Valencia, Spain

About: University of Virginia


"Studying abroad in Valencia was my first trip on a plane. The ins and outs of the airport were complicated, but I managed to make it to all of my flights with low stress. When I arrived in Valencia, I was so afraid. I had to learn a new culture, a new language, and adjust to a new host family. Over the first few days, I recovered from jetlag, the news of a close friend’s death, and a cold – I was definitely stressed out. My host mom, Diana and her son, Leo, were very loving and helpful during that time. I got the help that I needed for all of those problems, and I started enjoying Spain. I spent several hours each day in class, but I picked up on the language fairly well. I was able to understand Diana (who did not speak English), and communicate with her at a decent fluency level. I travelled to Granada, Spain as well. I studied hard and Diana saw my improvement. I am really proud of how far I have come both academically and culturally from studying abroad.  My favorite memory would have to be the last night I spent there. My host mother invited some of her friends that I met while I was there and we all celebrated Día de San Juan together. Diana made paella, tortilla española, gazpacho, and sangria – all of which were my favorite foods and drinks of Valencia. I couldn’t have asked for a better farewell!"

Lindsey Shavers