Our student María Fernanda Paz from the Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition, shares with us the experience of her international stay at the Faculty of Nutrition and Dietetics of the University of Lleida, Spain.

When you entered Uni did you know there were international programs?

Yes, since UNI is very well known for this, in fact, it was one of the reasons why I decided to study at the University of Celaya.

When you entered your career, did you think you would go to live and study abroad?

It was not something I had clear, the reality is that I saw it as a dream, however, I always tried hard to do it; but I have to say that when I applied for the call my parents were not aware of it and when I was selected to do my international stay I had to talk to them, but I never doubted that they would support me.

Have you ever lived or studied outside of Mexico before?

No, this was my first experience outside my country.

What prompted or motivated you to study in another country?

I can say that I had many motivations, I wanted to grow as a person, I have always lived with my parents so I wanted to live the experience of doing it alone and what better way to do it in another country, academically I wanted to expand my knowledge, I loved the idea of learning about other cultures.

Why did you decide to study in that country?

In my career we had three options, but for me Spain was always my only option, it was my dream country, I liked its architecture, its accent, the lifestyle, the university, knowing that the language would not be a problem since Spanish was spoken or at least I thought so since in Lleida practically everything is in Catalan, which is now a language that I love and I want to continue learning. Besides, it is another continent so life is totally different and the nutritional education is very different from ours.

How did you feel when you arrived in the new country?

Endless emotions, I was always super excited, but I traveled alone so the nervousness started from the moment I had to board, flying for 12 hours, arriving at an airport that is huge, El Prat, not knowing what to do and no one waiting for me was super difficult, arriving in Lleida I fell in love with the city, it was hard to get used to the schedule, the climate that is super radical, but it is a process that I had to live and one more learning.

How have you been received at the university where you arrived?

Super good in all aspects, all the directors and teachers have been super understanding with me, there is one person that I have to mention because I will always carry with me, Enric, a guy, also a student of nutrition, who has introduced me to my career director, I was lost the first day and he has helped me to do everything related to my load of subjects, He has explained me everything about the university and has also shown me the whole city, he is a friend that I will always cherish, the university is super nice, I have taken subjects with the three courses so I have had many classmates and I have to thank them all for their support, they have been super nice and have received me as one of them.

What will you miss most about Mexico and UNI?

I can say almost everything, my family, who I count the days to see and hug, my friends, my teachers, my gym, my patients, food which is something I have done quite a bit here and now value quite a bit, my university in general.

What is the most exciting thing you have experienced so far in this experience?

I can not choose something specific but my first trip was to Barcelona, it was a dream for me to know the city and go to Camp Nou, Barcelona's stadium, when I entered I felt one of the best feelings of my life, but also to live and meet many cultures, luckily I have had to live with an Italian, Brazilians (now I understand and speak a little Portuguese), Mexicans, Colombians and I have met people from all over the world, the unforgettable parties of erasmus, more than friends I take brothers from this experience, for all this has been so exciting.

And the hardest part?

The first has been the surprise that I have taken at the university to know that they would not speak to me in Spanish, but that all my classes would be in Catalan, it has been difficult because I did not understand anything so studying has been complicated at the beginning, but now I understand and I can speak some Catalan.

And second, the covid-19 situation has been very complicated, we saw in the news all about this, but we never imagined that it would come to us; the most difficult thing about this is that in Spain everything has been very drastic, we were in a normal day and we are warned that classes are suspended, that we enter in a state of alarm and that we can not leave anymore, it has been just over two months in which the situation was uncertain, where we saw how many erasmus returned to their countries, see our travel plans canceled but good bad things, it is an experience and a lot of learning.

What do you expect as a person and as a professional from this experience?

My mentality has changed a lot, I think that as a person I have grown too much, I am no longer afraid to travel, live or anything I have to do alone, in my career I have broadened my horizons, now I value my family more, so I expect a lot from myself, I want to keep looking for opportunities because there are many! And I want to be prepared.

Do you recommend these opportunities provided by Uni to your colleagues?

I say to all Uni students: if you have the opportunity to do an international stay, do not hesitate, fight for it, it is an experience that will mark you in your life and you will not want it to end. Take advantage of the great opportunity that our University offers us.