“I got a flyer and it sat in my room for a month,” said Diego Branda, senior parks, recreation, sport and tourism major about the beginning of his study abroad journey. “I didn’t think I would ever pick it up, but the more I thought about it, I didn’t know when I’d ever get another chance to do anything like this.”
A few months later, Branda was on his way to Barcelona, Spain, with four other CAFNR students. During his studies, Branda heard from international professionals in the sports management field — from the German Spike Ball office to sports management entrepreneurs.
“Obviously you can learn a lot about what sports management and marketing entails in American sports, but learning about the different areas of the European sport world was very cool,” said Branda.
While the class size was very small — just Branda, the three other CAFNR students and an exchange student from South Korea, the students were housed with other U.S. students from across the country who were participating in other study abroad programs.
“On that floor we just built a sense of community, a lot of friendship,” said Branda. “We stayed in a very tourist-y area, but we had a good group to explore the rest of the city with.”
After his time in the study abroad program ended, Branda’s sister came to Europe and they spent another month exploring other countries. This, in addition to his learning experience in Barcelona, confirmed what Branda already expected about his future.
“Even before my study abroad experience, I had kind of imagined a potential future in Europe,” Branda said. “While I may end up staying in the states post-grad, I could definitely see myself in Barcelona. It’s a very inviting city. It’s very diverse, and we learned in class that only 25% of the people who live there are originally from the area. About 95% of people there spoke English, which made it easier to learn more about all the different cultures in the city. It’s a city that invites a lot of newcomers to become locals.”
Now, Branda is serving on the International Education Committee, working to encourage other CAFNR students to make the leap into an international experience.
The International Education Committee comprises faculty members and students who work to promote and support study abroad opportunities to maximize CAFNR students international learning and experience opportunities.
“I had cold feet at first, but now I sound like a broken record telling freshman ‘Just do it!’” said Branda.
Branda emphasized the number of options that CAFNR offers for study abroad, both for locations and degrees and emphasis areas. He also praised the many scholarship opportunities and helpful onsite staff for helping him both get to Barcelona and navigate the experience while there.
“I know it’s cliched, but it’s a summer I will never forget,” said Branda. “Study abroad really is everything they advertise it to be.”