Finance major fearlessly presses on despite political turmoil in Spain

The same day the Catalan regional parliament rebelled against Spain, sophomore Alondra Gracia turned in her Visa paperwork and headed out the door of the Houston consulate.

Exhausted, the finance major began her six-hour wait for a delayed Greyhound bus back to Austin. In four weeks, Gracia would have the Visa in her hands, and in three months, her life in Spain could begin.

Through St. Edward’s Study Abroad program, Gracia and other students will spend the spring semester abroad from January to April 2018. Unlike other student trips, Gracia’s will take place during a time of political instability in the region.

Though Catalonia declared independence from Spain on Oct. 27 (the same day Gracia’s bus driver declared independence from his or her bus route) Catalan autonomy was not on Gracia’s radar during her first meeting with Meghan Ryan, a study abroad advisor with the Global Engagement Office at St. Edward’s.

Ryan guided Gracia as she picked a study abroad program, all the while keeping tabs on what the BBC has called the “biggest political crisis in Spain for 40 years.”

Aware of the political upheaval in the region, Gracia said she’s thought about the Catalan-Madrid crisis, but she isn’t afraid. Whether she’s walking to the grocery store in Austin or studying abroad in Spain, Gracia says “every country has its own problems.”

“It’s an interesting time to go because there’s a lot of controversy,” Gracia said. “I feel that anywhere you go, you always have to be cautious.”

Aside from a few trips to Mexico over the years, Gracia’s only other experience travelling was last summer when she went with the St. Edward’s choir on a 10-day tour of Scandinavia to Norway, Sweden and Denmark. This was a month after terror attacks occurred in Sweden.

Though Gracias said she reflected on the proximity of the attack and her trip, she believes college is the best time to study abroad, seeing that she takes safety precautions.

“I think [my study abroad in Spain] is going to open my eyes to a new political climate,” Gracia said. “It’s definitely going to allow me to appreciate another political perspective. The most important part about traveling is being more open minded. The only way you can do that is by walking in someone else’s shoes.”