At the end of their high school careers, many seniors graduate and move on from East and head off to new adventures. They travel to Lawrence for the University of Kansas 33 miles away, to Fayetteville for the University of Arkansas 203 miles away or to even father places like Baylor University, 532 miles away.
But for Senior Bret Kirkman, the college adventure that awaits him is a 4,813 mile journey from Kansas City to Barcelona, Spain at the University of Barcelona.
Kirkman has two goals for his first year out of college: to gain business experience, and to further his Spanish-speaking skills. Attending the University of Barcelona as a gap year before finishing college in the States will do that for Kirkman.
UB offers a program for foreign students where they can experience a new culture, travel around Europe and still take classes. Kirkman will be taking three classes while he is there, double majoring in International Business and Spanish.
Kirkman and his family visited Barcelona over spring break both as a vacation and a college tour for Kirkman, so he could get a feel for the people and lifestyles in Barcelona.
Last summer, Kirkman got to experience a new culture when he went to Nicaragua with the organization Amigos de las Américas. Amigos gives students the opportunity to live in a Spanish-speaking village for six to eight weeks while working on a community service project with a partner. This summer, Kirkman will go on his second service trip with Amigos, this time to Ecuador.
After experiencing a new culture through Amigos, Kirkman and his parents decided that the ability to travel across Europe easily and experience new societies made attending UB a real possibility.
In addition to the three classes he will be taking, Kirkman will get a job when he gets to Spain and will travel when he can throughout the year to countries including southern France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Greece and other parts of eastern Europe.
The seven hour time difference will prove to be difficult when keeping in touch with family and friends while he is so far away. Kirkman’s friend, senior Jerry Patrick, thinks that with the help of FaceTime and texting, Kirkman can keep in touch with friends and family.
Despite the obstacles of keeping in touch, Kirkman is looking forward to experiencing the new cultures that await him in Europe.
“I think I will gain a lot of life experience and independence,” Kirkman said. “I feel like so many great things will come out of this.”