Patrick Randall-Study Abroad - Carnegie Mellon University

Patrick Randall

"Anyone interested in going abroad, they're taking another step.  They're being smart.  They're exploring new things and it's definitely the way to go.  If I could do it again, I'd do it immediately!  I think everyone should get the chance to go abroad once in their life!"

Meet Patrick Randall...

Patrick grew up in a small town in Connecticut and came to Carnegie Mellon to study Economics.  In the fall of 2008, Patrick had a life-changing experience when he studied abroad at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.

Before He Went

One of Patrick's primary goals in studying abroad was to improve his Spanish-speaking skills.  He knew that studying abroad would be a great opportunity, as he would be immersed in the Spanish culture.  In order to be as fully immersed in Spanish culture and language, he decided to live with a Spanish family with whom who he could communicate on a daily basis.

Arrival to Barcelona

When he arrived, Patrick was really excited because it was his first time overseas and in Europe!

Living in Barcelona

Living with a host-family helped Patrick transition and become acquainted with life in Barcelona.  He was, however, a bit nervous about how often he'd need to speak in Spanish because of the multi-lingual nature of the university.  Patrick said that he experienced a bit of culture shock in Spain for a couple of reasons: there were rules and customs in the house of his host-family that he wasn't accustomed to observing; and people stared at him in the streets because he looked different than the most Spaniards. 

Patrick noticed that there were a lot of touristy attractions in Barcelona, like similar types of stores and signs in English.  He also noticed that there was much he was unfamiliar with, such as the Catalan language and the metro-system.  He was quickly introduced to Catalan, a popular language in Barcelona.  Not having grown up in a city, Patrick also had to familiarize himself with the metro system, which was a lot of fun for him.

Making friends was not a problem for Patrick, as he met people from many countries.  He reports that he had to separate himself from the group of Americans so that he could better connect with the Spanish culture.  Many Americans tended to stick together and he knew that if he really wanted to live in Spain that he would have to go beyond that bubble of familiarity.

Patrick participated in a number of cultural activities, including the Language Exchange Program offered by the university. Having an intercambio encouraged Patrick to further develop his Spanish language ability.  In addition to practicing Spanish with a native speaker, his partner also exposed him to various places and activities in Spain.

Patrick enjoyed the opportunity to experience many Spanish holidays, such as the week long celebration of Catalonian Independence.  During this time, the metro was open for 24 hours and there were special events each night, such as fireworks and people climbing pyramids.  Christmas was also a huge celebration in Spain - there were parades, Christmas festivals, and lights everywhere.  He said, "Everyone was really upbeat about it and in the spirit!"

When thinking about how his world view changed, Patrick thinks specifically about the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election.  "You get all these people that come up to you... like my host mother.  She'd ask me, ‘Who are you voting for?' You'd see them watching the election coverage on TV, how much interest they take in America, how affected they are by what we do.  I was like, ‘wow... these people look up to us.  They understand what's going on.  They want to know what we do and how it affects them.  Everyone was paying attention to the election.  Even in Portugal... they'd ask my opinion.  We'd debate about it.  I gained a very global view of economics, politics, and culture."

Looking Back on His Experience...

When thinking about returning to the United States Patrick stated, "I didn't want to leave.  I was so adjusted to Spain.  It was such a good time!  Every day was something new... I had things to do, places to see... I didn't learn everything about Spain or Barcelona that I could have learned.  There was so much else I wanted to accomplish, so many other people I wanted to meet, places to travel as well."  Patrick hopes to return to Barcelona sometime in the near future! 

When he returned home, Patrick found himself speaking Spanish quite often because he wasn't used to speaking in English again! Patrick speaks lots of Spanish at home and encourages his brother to learn more. 

Patrick's life view has certainly changed since studying abroad, "People in Spain live a more relaxed life.  They don't put as much pressure on themselves.  I want to be able to live like the Spanish people do.  I want to be able to enjoy my life, work hard... I want to be able to do something that I won't regret.  Every day is important.  You do as much as you can.  I have to experience every day at a time."

Patrick Randall

Patrick Randall

Barcelona, Spain
Fall 2008