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A masked bandit brought me to Spain

by Eirene O’Connor, Abbey Road staff

My commitment to study abroad began in 2007 when, as a sophomore in high school, I traveled to Cádiz, Spain with Abbey Road. Today, as I look forward to returning to Spain as an Abbey Road staff member, I’m reminded that study abroad is as much an exercise in perspective and as it is a language-learning endeavor.

When I was eight years old, I went to the movies with my family to see a new release starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The Mask of Zorro captivated me. The sword fights and dance interludes easily distracted from the historical and cultural inaccuracies that pervaded the vaguely “hispanic” world on the screen. I returned home intent on somehow becoming a part of this world. Within a few months, I was enrolled in classes to learn Flamenco, a dance from southern Spain that, as it turned out, has nothing to do with Zorro or his hollywood-generated, quasi-tango.

I wasn’t fully able to appreciate the significance of this ridiculous sequence of events until I studied abroad. I already understood that I had accidentally inherited one of the greatest aspects of Spain’s cultural heritage — but not until I lived in Spain did I realize how connected this allowed me to feel to an otherwise foreign country. Though the peculiar details of my story are likely unique to me, the overall experience of finding a piece of yourself in a country you’ve never been to before is remarkably common. This is what makes study abroad such a personally enriching experience.

A masked bandit brought me to Spain. What brought you abroad? and what did you find there?


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