Reasons Why Not to Stop For Pizza During a Fire Festival

Guest Post By: Junior studying Finance/Marketing, Josephine Beaudoin. During Winter Quarter 2022, Sydney studied abroad with Foster Faculty and fellow Foster students on the ALBA Barcelona program.

As the clock struck midnight this New Years, alongside my roommate, I turned by back to the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy, and threw a coin over my shoulder to make a wish. As I closed my eyes, I made one wish: to make the most of my study abroad. Three days later, I hopped on a plane from Italy to Barcelona, Spain beginning my study abroad journey with ALBA.

I’ve lived in Europe before, when I was a kid, but I knew that this experience was going to be completely different.

It was going to be transformative- but to take full advantage of my time in Barcelona, I had to say “yes” to every opportunity I was presented with. The best experiences I had while abroad were spontaneous, especially because I never went into them with any expectations of what could happen. For example, on one of my first weeks in Barcelona, I went to a fire festival without doing any research on what it would entail. I expected maybe a bonfire, or a few sparklers- not it ending with me being chased down small streets with roman candles being shot at me by people from the parade dressed in costumes as part of the festival procession.

I also never expected to find myself playing beach volleyball with new and old friends, including a local who I had met in a library the week before and a travelling nurse from Mexico. I also never expected to be taking local salsa dance classes entirely in Spanish- which led to me stepping on the toes of every dance partner I had for an entire hour. I definitely never thought I’d end up flying to Scotland spontaneously and going on late night ghost tours where I was able to learn about the history of one of the most haunted cities in the world.

In the end, my wish came true. I truly found myself making the most out of my study abroad experience, and even though this meant I didn’t get much sleep, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. For every student considering study abroad, I have some small pieces of advice. First, pick the program that is the best fit for you, not necessarily where your friends are going. No matter what, you’ll meet people and have an experience of a lifetime! Second, be sure to throw yourself into the experience headfirst. This is honestly the best way to grow while abroad. And finally, and probably most importantly, don’t stop for pizza during a fire festival. You may end up having to run for your life.