Valentina Fernandez Escalona
About My Study Abroad Program
Program: Carolina Global Launch
Location: Granada, Spain
Term: Fall 2022
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I found out about CGL through the CommonApp, and I have always been very adventurous and eager to travel. I had never heard of studying abroad opportunities for freshman, so it was very appealing to me.
What did you learn about yourself?
At first, I was very nervous about being on my own in a foreign country as a young student because I felt I wasn't mature enough or prepared. But this experience taught me that you can truly do anything if you really try. I ended up taking all of my classes in Spanish, and although I thought I was not prepared for it, I ended up growing so much from it. I also was quickly able to navigate transportation routes with my friends, which before this experience, I probably never would have even tried. I also was afraid to go up to people and ask for help but now I am a lot better at reaching out and advocating for myself when I need it.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite parts/memories of this program was getting the opportunity to travel to different places around and out of Spain. I was able to see so many new cultures and languages during my travels and those experiences are the things I will never forget.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
There are going to be uncomfortable moments where you don't understand the language or customs, but my main advice is to not be afraid to ask for help. There is no shame in not knowing or understanding something, and the only way you can learn and grow is to not be afraid to ask questions when you need it. The other thing that helped me the most was the community the UNC students in the Global Launch program were able to create. I made an amazing group of friends and we supported and helped each other through the uncertainties of beginning our college experience abroad, and we always looked out for each other to make sure everyone was safe and having an amazing time.
How do you identify?
Student of color, Transfer Student