A “Life-changing” Experience: Maria Caicedo Reflects on her First Semester on Exchange in Spain

Maria Caicedo wanted to broaden her worldview and become a global citizen, so she stepped out of her comfort zone and into life in Spain.


Maria, a third-year STUdent majoring in International Relations and Economics, is almost halfway through a year-long international exchange in Madrid.


“I’m majoring in International Relations because I want to be a global individual who is aware of the issues going on around the world, and I knew that going on an exchange would help me learn valuable lessons,” she said.


Originally from Cali, Colombia, Maria wanted to experience life in a big city and felt the environment in Spain would be perfect for international students.


During the exchange, she’s studying at CEU San Pablo. It’s been a smooth academic transition—the course structure is similar to what she’s used to a STU.


“Classes are small, so it’s been amazing to still have that learning atmosphere while experiencing big city life.”


Madrid has an extensive transportation system, which Maria has been taking advantage of. She’s traveled to multiple cities in Spain, including Salamanca, Avila, Valencia, Segovia, and San Sebastian. She’s taken larger trips to France and recently visited Geneva, Switzerland.

“Studying aboard allows you to immerse yourself in different cultures, not only of the place you’re living, but also through the different places you visit and people you meet.”


With one more semester left of her exchange, Maria is looking forward to more opportunities for personal growth and learning.


“This experience has been truly life-changing,” she said. “I’ve met people from so many different countries and cultures, I’ve been able to participate in different local celebrations, and I’ve learned so much about the traditions here.”


Want to learn more about international exchange opportunities? Visit STU.ca/studyabroad