The following was written by Kinsey Cooper, who is on the UGA Equestrian team. She is studying Agribusiness through the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and had the opportunity to study abroad during May 2023.
A short three days after moving out of my apartment in East Campus Village following my freshman year, I said goodbye to my parents and boarded a flight across the Atlantic Ocean! The trip I had been waiting for all year was finally upon me, and I must say, it was absolutely incredible. The 2023 Spain: Food Production, Culture, and the Environment trip was definitely one for the books.
I initially decided to go on this study abroad for one reason- I knew one of the professors that ran it. Conveniently, it coincided with my major and would provide me with some useful credits. We were instructed to do some research beforehand, so I had a small idea of what we were getting ourselves into. I booked my flight, thinking, “Nine hours isn’t THAT bad.” Nine hours is, in fact, that bad. I slept most of the way on the flight to Spain, jet lag hitting me as soon as we landed. We made our way through the airport at what was 3 AM EST, 9 AM in Spain. To say that I was in a bad mood would be an understatement. I recall texting my parents that I was already excited to be home, and that those two weeks were going to be LONG. Then, I took a little nap and I felt much better.
Throughout the entire trip, the group of girls I quickly became friends with and I continuously stated, “This doesn’t even feel like real life!” The architecture, culture, insane shopping, and other intricacies that caught us off guard due to the differences from the United States. The group of girls was full of laughter, and made an already amazing trip even
better! We slowly got used to it as we settled in with each other, no longer worrying about if our hair was frizzy or if our makeup wasn’t done. By the end of our trip, the group really began to feel like family.
As we ventured through the days, we walked what felt like hundreds of miles and visited the ancient buildings, I was amazed. It was incredible to see the old architecture in Spain, with some tour guides describing buildings from 1000 AD as “new.” We all found this so funny simply due to the much younger age of our own country. We visited pork, dairy, and goat farms- all hits with our group because we got to see piglets, cows, and kids at each place. We explored the olive industry of Spain, which is massive and so impressive, as well as the vast cheese and wine industries within the country. Each farm we visited was so wholesome, with kind people showing us around and sweet animals everywhere we looked.
Through it all, the trip was not easy. Three people got sick, we were tired, on our feet a lot, with early mornings and sometimes a severe lack of snacks! However, we laughed, sang, made friends with folks who we could hardly even hold a conversation with, and grew. Assimilating to a different culture, even for a short time, is no easy task. From language
barriers, to jet lag, to the utter difference in transportation in Spain, we learned a lot very quickly. I am so grateful for this experience, for both teaching me about Spain, and about myself!