A Barcelona Adventure

My name is Carmyn Wahl and this fall I am entering my senior year the University of Montana. I am earning my finance and international business degree along with a certificate in global leadership. I had the incredible opportunity to spend the spring of 2019 in the vibrant city of Barcelona, Spain. This was my first experience living outside of the United States and while I knew the culture and lifestyle would be different, I did not expect to have my eyes opened to a completely new way of living life. Moments after stepping off the airplane, I was overwhelmed with changes and new thoughts and ideas. I was standing at the baggage claim in my UM sweatshirt and leggings standing next to an older man in a three piece suit. And I was the odd one out. I knew immediately the next five months of my life would be the most influential part of my college experience. 

The global theme and challenge that I chose to focus on is natural resources and sustainability. Although I was unable to directly learn about sustainability from my university, I used every day as a new chance to learn from other students and the community. A few things stood out to me about Barcelona and other Spanish cities green initiatives. First was their waste collection system. Largely different from the United States, every street is lined with giant recycling bins that are color coordinated with what their specific purpose is. Yellow for cans and cartons, blue for paper and cardboard, green for glass, brown for organic waste, and gray for other (non garbage) waste. Garbage and recycling is a community effort rather than individual, which I believe is a considerable step in the right direction for fighting against climate change and conserving our fragile world. This system is also a great example of the rich community lifestyle that many cities in Europe possess. 

While attending Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, I was able to take an extensive marketing class which will help enhance my communication and pitching skills; something that is sometimes overlooked yet crucial to any job or project. I also took a Spanish taxation class, which, I know, sounds extremely boring, but it ended up becoming my favorite class to attend in Spain. The professor related every concept and idea back to the European Union and the United States. I now have an intermediate understanding of how the US relates trades and interacts with Europe. I have dreams to work in Spain (or anywhere in Europe, really) in business and environmental conservation and this framework of information will be more than beneficial in what I eventually pursue.

I feel much more prepared to fulfill a leadership role now and in the future because of the multitude of knowledge I absorbed in this foreign environment. I cannot thank the GLI and the Franke family, fellow students, and my professors both here and abroad enough for shaping me into the confident and dream driven person I feel I am today. 

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