My Experience Being Gay Abroad

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Bon dia! My name is Xenia Vidal and I am a senior double-majoring in Political Science and Spanish Translation. I studied abroad my junior academic year at Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Studying for a year abroad provided me the opportunity for a complete cultural and global education. As a Political Science major — and as a future candidate for elected office — studying in Catalonia in the midst of a heated political independence movement was one of the most transformative experiences I could have asked for.

In a year, I have traveled from Iceland to Israel, Great Britain to Morocco, through 20 countries, and experienced more culture than most Americans do in a lifetime.

I also identify as gay.

I was notably abroad during Pride month in June and experienced some of the most outward displays of unapologetic queerness throughout Europe. Government buildings had large rainbow flags, entire streets would be bombarded with parades and marches proclaiming equality, and LGBT couples would walk around the city holding hands totally unafraid. It was beautiful. I had felt more pride in being apart of the LGBT community in Barcelona than I have ever felt in my hometown of Los Angeles.

I had felt more pride in being a part of the LGBT community in Barcelona than I have ever felt in my hometown of Los Angeles.

Studying abroad gives you time to discover yourself. Barcelona is one of the most LGBT friendly places in Europe. I would ventue to say it has one of the most active and present gaywomen communities in the world. It has a famous “Gaixample” district, and an even more famous gay beach town called Sitges. But overall, the Catalan capital is an open, cosmopolitan city where LGBTs will find an atmosphere of freedom, tolerance and respect.

If you are thinking about studying abroad and you also feel like you are apart of the LGBT spectrum, consider studying in Barcelona. Studying abroad is so much more than just school — it is allowing yourself to become acutely aware of your identity in ways you wouldn’t even imagine.

This post was contributed by Xenia Vidal, an AIFS Alumni Ambassador who spent a full academic year studying abroad with AIFS in Barcelona, Spain.

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