Barcelona: A Year Abroad

In the first of a mini-series detailing her experiences of moving abroad for university, Gemma Clark talks about the preparation before leaving – the journey before the journey.

Growing up comes with a myriad of choices and expectations.

Towards the end of school you have to decide whether to go to university or college or just to get a job and work your way up; whether to go onto other further education; where and to study what; if you should move out; if that thing with that guy was just a party thing or if he’s actually got potential for more. The new responsibilities are endless and the choices you make can affect the rest of your life.

For me, I decided to take the academic route by going to university (the “academic” thing), but chose a degree that would allow me to still be creative (the “artistic” route). In short, I chose a Multimedia Journalism degree at Glasgow Caledonian University, and am now in my third year.

Since I was 15, I was determined to make it to university. I had always been a hard worker and my grades were good – but I knew the competition for a subject like journalism was fierce. I quickly got my hands into as much freelance and work experience as I could, so that when crunch time came, I made the cut. And I did. From 800 applicants, I was one of the lucky 36 to be accepted.

A huge part of picking your university is working out if the opportunities it offers are right for you, and whether its services will help you to get where you want to be. If you are not sure yet (as with so many 16-20 year olds), you have to think about what they can suggest to you that might help you onto the right path.

With all this in mind, what attracted me to GCU was the chance to travel abroad in third year. And, after five years’ hard graft, I am headed to Barcelona. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, though, and the process has not quite been everything I dreamed it would be.

In the years running up to stepping onto the plane, my fanciful mind romanticised the whole process. Over years of anticipation, I hadn’t ever once considered the landmine of paperwork, the red tape over funding, the ‘I’s to be dotted, the ‘T’s to be crossed, the meetings and consultations to be had, the amount of emails sent between two countries (which surely ended up being more than the internet is able to handle), and endless arguing with faceless officials, who seemed determined to place as many road blocks as possible. Whew! It’s exhausting to even think about.

However, my journey to Barcelona is now well on its way. The flat is booked, my roommates and I are ready to move in but, with four days to go, I am still not packed.

So, in view of this rather large (very necessary) job, I should conclude this first piece. It has been a long, hard road to get to this stage. I have had to work extremely hard to get to this point, overcoming personal struggles as well as fighting off competition to be able to get here. It will be fun, right?

I certainly hope so, because seeing as this is my first time with responsibility for my own place, and I have to live with two boys for the next four months, I am terrified!

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