A local woman recently had the unique opportunity to turn the pages of her calendar while enjoying the sights and sounds of different countries.
Carmen Alderman of Rowan County is currently a student at the University of Kentucky working on two bachelor’s degrees in communication sciences and disorders as well as psychology.
After her summer adventure, she’s now a seasoned traveler at the ripe old age of 21; and the memories she made and the things she learned are things she will take with her and cherish for the rest of her life and career.
Alderman said that during the last fall semester, she developed an interest in studying abroad, but didn’t know how to go about it.
“I found out that the UK actually has study abroad fairs where you can go and find information, and I went there,” she said.
It turned out that after providing information, she chose to attend one of these fairs at exactly the right time.
“When I came in they were offering scholarships to study abroad this summer. and then I found out that I had won one of those scholarships. Once I got that, I was able to choose the location – Barcelona, Spain,” she said.
” That’s where it all began. and it was a wild ride,” Alderman said. First there was the application process through the UK and their third-party institution, and then the choice had to be made between taking courses or a traineeship, she said.
“I was already ahead of my classes, so I chose the internship to gain more work experience,” she said.
This began the second stage of being accepted and being matched with an adviser from the UK third party – International Studies Abroad.
“I had to give him my resume,” Alderman said. “And then she dispersed that to businesses in Barcelona. After that there was an interview and I ended up getting an internship in a private practice in Barcelona.
Voyager turned out to be an eye opener in many ways, Alderman said.
“Before I left, I had goals and expectations,” she said. But it was also a bit confusing and a bit of an emotional adjustment for her.
“I had never been out of the country,” Alderman said. “But the biggest thing I discovered when I got there was the difference in lifestyle. It wasn’t quite what I was used to here in the States.
“Their schedule is completely different,” she added. “In Spain they have a different mentality about work. They have the attitude of working to enjoy the life they have, but in the United States I would say we work to live. Here we focus more on the work itself.
Regardless of the differences in attitudes, Alderman said she was able to learn a lot abroad. One of his goals had been to develop an accurate global perspective; and it is something that she succeeded in.
“By doing the internship, I was exposed to different cultures, and it also gave me a lot more self-awareness,” Alderman said. “By engaging and interacting with others there, it also allowed me to take a closer look at my own beliefs and practices.”
This lesson and experience is something she said she thinks will be invaluable to anyone because we are all used to “getting stuck” in our own way.
“And it really allowed me to have a more open mind about other people’s views and opinions,” she said.
However, his travels brought more than just practical knowledge to Alderman.
“It was also a lot of fun,” she said. “And what made it more fun was that I actually had three roommates while I was there. They were all from the United States, and it really relieved me to know that he There would be other students I could relate to. They helped make the experience more fun because you can find out more if you’re all interested in the same kinds of novelties.”
Alderman, who spoke no Spanish when she embarked on the trip, said it also made it easier that two of her three roommates were fluent in Spanish, removing what could have been a huge barrier to her experiences.
Alderman said she and her housemates have been able to enjoy many incredible sites, including one just outside their apartment, La Sagrada Familia.
“It’s a Roman Catholic church towering over everything,” she said. “And that was probably my favorite thing to shoot while I was there. The architecture is one of the big differences between there and a big city. Here, buildings in big cities tend to be more modern, but there, all their buildings are very old. It’s something you can’t get much here, but it’s everywhere in Spain and surrounding countries.
Although she really enjoyed the architecture, Alderman and her roommates also enjoyed trips to other countries.
“Going to all the surrounding countries was just as interesting as Barcelona itself,” she said, “because they are all so different from each other.”
The ease of travel was something that impressed her, she said, noting that many of these countries were comparable in size to individual states in the United States. But each country has a rich history and individual identity, she said.
In Barcelona, in addition to La Sagrada Familia, Alderman said she was impressed by the Gothic Quarter, or “Old Barcelona.”
“Old Barcelona are heart-shaped,” Alderman said. “But as you get away from it, the city is laid out in squares. They do a lot of touring, and on one of those tours we learned that when they expanded, we learned that they take in consideration of things like the sun, disease and life itself.
“Barcelona is very small with a lot of people, so they learned that their streets had to be a certain width to let the sun in and not cram too many people.”
Alderman said that before leaving, she expected the experience to be more intimidating and difficult with the language barrier.
“But I found that as humans, we don’t grow up in a comfortable zone so much,” she said. “I felt that in order to grow as a person, I had to take the chance that this represented, and ultimately it helped me grow and progress as a person and made me more open-minded with people. points of view of others.”