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Experiència internacional Marta Trabal Gaspar

Experiència internacional Marta Trabal Gaspar

Memories of an extraordinary adventure and experience



Anxiety, excitement, expectations, hesitation and just not believing the news you have just received (‘you have been accepted as an Erasmus student at your chosen University and country’).

It is an overwhelming explosion of emotions. However, this is nothing compared to what you are about to experience.

I still remember walking out of the plane in London Heathrow Terminal 3 where some volunteer students from University of Hertfordshire were waiting for ‘the new international students’ (us). Two luggage, tired, confused, scared and excited, no familiar faces around, my first time staying away from home and, four months ahead with endless memories to make, experiences, challenges, people to meet and opportunities.

In a few weeks, I was already feeling like home. I had built my new family (a group of international students who came together rapidly out of the need of not being alone) with whom we organised international dinners each week so, we could try the traditional recipes of each of our countries. I was joining all the university trips around the UK, I was mentoring English students that were learning Spanish, joining Societies (they have as many as shown in all these American movies), getting used to their way of studying which involves countless essays and projects and of course, partying a lot!




Hence, after three weeks in University of Hertfordshire I decided to ask to extend my ‘Study Abroad Experience’ to a whole academic year.

Some years teach you more than what you ever expected and maybe, even more than what you ever wanted to learn in one span of 365 days. I can guarantee you that this year was without doubt, one of those.

I learned how to divide the clothes when doing laundry, I learned juggling skills to be able to maintain a social life and good grades, I spent sleepless nights in the library, learned many survival recipes via Skype from family and friends, I mastered stepping out of my comfort zones, challenging my way of thinking, being independent and making hard decisions alone and, appreciating solitude. Because let’s be honest, there will also be times when you will feel alone. But they are worth it, because you learn to transform challenges into opportunities, to appreciate the people you have around and, to give yourself time to reflect on your hectic day to day life and what are the goals you want to achieve.

Thinking deeply about this past year I can affirm that I am not the same person I was when I set out on this journey.

Working with Enactus Society I helped victims of gender violence, with the university’s Business School I worked as a consultant helping NGO’s that were trying to provide means to children that could not go to school. Joining and working with the ‘International Student Support Department’ I have learned from many cultures and religions and experienced first-hand how lucky we are. I had classmates that being from Pakistan and being gay, could not go back to their country because their families had dishonoured them and their life was at risk, girl-friends from a Muslim background that they already had arranged marriages waiting for them when returning home…



You learn to be thankful, to make the most out of all the opportunities you are given, to engage with your community, to contribute as much as you can to change yourself and the world around you. In summary, it is an experience that opens your eyes.


Now, I am more confident, I am comfortable speaking in front of hundreds of people, I have learned to speak up and find my voice.

Each ‘study abroad’ experience will be different and that, is the special thing about it. Yours will be as amazing as you decide to make it. Your learning, will be directly proportional to how much you are willing to expose yourself to the unknown and, to participate in extracurricular activities. And therefore, I encourage you to take the risk, to give it a try. To relate with different cultures and not only Spanish and Italians, to challenge your beliefs.

The least you will obtain is a life changing experience and plenty of memories.

Marta Trabal Gaspar (2018)