Skip to main content

Lauren Thompson

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Exercise and Sport Science & Communication Studies
Program: UNC Honors Burch in Spain: Cultural Heritage and Sport
Location: Barcelona, Spain & Madrid, Spain
Term: Summer 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I have always loved to travel and I was intrigued to experience what it would be like to study is another country. I selected my program because of my love for soccer and my curiosity for technology. Additionally, my program covered my last two honors credits, so it was a win-win. Lastly, I chose this particular program due to my love for Spain and my desire to improve me Spainish.


What did you learn about yourself?
The UNC Honors Burch in Spain program helped me grow and evolve in ways that I never expected. After the program ended, it clear to me that I had grown immensely both personally and academically. For one, my confidence in my Spanish notably increased and I was successfully able to get around different parts of Spain on my own, especially during the last two weeks. I am now to the point where I can carry conversation and understand what others are saying 80% of the time. I plan on continuing to grow in my Spanish speaking abilities in hopes of becoming fully fluent in the near future. My navigational skills also greatly improved. The metro slowly, but surely became very comfortable for me to navigate. While I was in Spain, our class heavily relied on using the metro to get around as it is one of the easiest and more affordable modes of transportation in Spain. It was not long after we arrived in Barcelona that I was able to make my way through Barcelona, especially Gracia, where our apartments were located, and the city center, Plaça de Catalunya, without the use of GPS navigation. I loved this experience and they person that it has helped me become.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
My favorite memory was the last night we were in Barcelona. On our last night, the Feast of Sant Joan, also known as the Summer Solstice, was starting. Everyone in the program went out to dinner on the beach. The food was delicious and it was a beautiful conclusion to our time together. The city was full over smiles and joy as people set off fireworks on the beach in celebration of the holiday.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I would advise them to utilize their professors and classmates as a resource as much as they can. My classmates helped me a lot when I was feeling homesick or not in the best spirits. I would also advise them to try to take a step back and find time for themselves in whatever way they can.


How do you identify?
Student of color, Scholarship Recipient


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
My identity as a Black woman slightly played a role in my time abroad. There were times where I could feel people staring at me in particular, especially when I was in a large group with my classmates. There were also microaggressions here and there that I dealt with along the way.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
I would definitely recommend finding your community and try to find people who can resonate with you. I would also seek places in the country that you are staying in that remind you of home and/or your place.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I turned to my study abroad roommates that I got really close to and my friends back at home.