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Becca Kaplan

Shotgun Experiences

by Becca Kaplan | Jan 12, 2017

Ever since the Fall 2016 semester ended, I have been working, reading books, and traveling, just trying to come up with some inspiration to do something great. That’s what Manchester University has done to me. It’s a place that has helped me learn so much about who I am, who I want to be, where I’m from, and where I want to go in life; it has given me inspiration and motivation to be better. My first “great”? Studying abroad. My second? Choosing a major that is right for me, instead of one that was almost forced upon me. You see, at Manchester, both faculty and students encourage each other to be themselves. From the various campus clubs, to all the different cultures represented, to the gender-neutral bathrooms located in the Academic Center, there truly is a place for every student. For me, I found my place through my First Year Seminar (FYS) class. When I arrived on campus my first day in August 2015, I was put into a group with about 20 other first year students, and it was during week one that I made some incredible friends, along with professors, that would later inspire me to do whatever makes me happy, because I only have this one life to live, and I need to make the most of it. Without their help, I don’t think I would be the same person, and I love who I am now.

So, you may be wondering why this awkward sophomore is rambling on and on about “finding your place in this world” and “being happy.” I think the answer lies in the question – being happy in this world. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I am truly happy with my life. Here’s how it happened: I went to the Activities Fair in September of my freshman year, and I wandered over to the Study Abroad booth where I met Professor Thelma Rohrer. With her help, along with the help of classmates and students that have already returned from their semesters abroad, I was able to select a program that was right for me, and complete deadlines to make my dream of exploring Spain a reality.

As a Secondary Education major with a concentration in Spanish education (and a possible minor or two), Barcelona is the perfect place for me to combine my Spanish studies and my loves for art, architecture, and history. I can enjoy walking through Barcelona’s streets, admire the work of the famous Antoni Gaudí, go to the Dalí museum, immerse myself in the Spanish language, and enjoy Spanish cuisine and delicious cups of European coffee all in one day. It’s an amazing opportunity, and I encourage everyone to at least consider their options regarding Study Abroad. There is a lot of work to do before departure, but I promise you, it’s worth it.

My adventure begins on January 15, when I will make my journey across Atlantic Ocean to the coast of Spain. When I first started the process of applying to the BCA program – BCA being the company that Manchester uses to send their students abroad – I was terrified. I was scared that, even though I worked so hard, I wouldn’t be able to go. This is the dream I never thought would come true, and now it has. I could say I owe all of my thanks to Manchester, but that would be a lie. Yes, Manchester presented me with an abundance of opportunities, but it was really my family that pushed me to do everything I could to fulfill my life-long dream. They tend to do that a lot – push me. My family has always expected the best from me, and they try so hard to help me in any way that they can. They pushed me to study hard in high school, they pushed me to go to a college that would better fit my needs rather than a school where a lot of my friends were going to, and they pushed me to be a better woman who deserves so much more than some stupid man who broke my heart.

My whole pre-departure experience almost makes me think of the book I’m reading right now, titled Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler. One of the main characters in the novel, Lee, is a famous musician who’s first album is all about how it was the people in his life that practically forced him to keep pursuing his dream of music by way of doubting his success. He appropriately titled the album Shotgun Lovesongs, comparing his overwhelming sense of failure to a shotgun wedding where a couple gets married because there is an urgency to do so – usually with a shotgun held to the groom’s back by the bride’s father. Lee used his fear of failing as the “shotgun” against his back and, because of it, he produced an album that led to his big break as a musician. So, here I am, ready to leave the United States for the first time, and I feel ready. I used my fear of letting everyone down, of letting myself down, to motivate me to meet my deadlines and make it to Spain. If I can do it, so can you.

To anyone who is even considering going abroad for a semester or two, here’s some advice: dream big, try your best, don’t ever forget where you come from, take lots of pictures, and try as many news things as you can. Life is way too short to not be extraordinary, and who knows if you’ll ever find yourself abroad again? Take every chance you can, while you still have time.

My experience as a Spartan Abroad will be from January 15 until May 6, 2017. Between that time, I will be posting updates to Spartan Blogs every 1.5 – 2 weeks, and to my personal blog ( every 7 – 10 days. I promise you, I will tell you all about my latest and greatest adventures, and I will take way too many pictures as proof. Until next time. – B

Becca Kaplan ’19, is a Spanish Secondary Education major with minors in TESOL and Business. As a commuter student, she spends most of her time on campus either studying, watching Netflix, or writing her next blog post. When classes are not in session, Becca usually travels, either visiting her parents in Florida, or her extended family in St. Louis.

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