Hello! My name is Tori Noles and I am a junior at the University of Richmond, studying PPEL (Political Science, Philosophy, Economics, and Law) and Health Care Studies. This semester, I have chosen to study abroad in Madrid, Spain at St. Louis University. Choosing to study abroad was a very difficult decision for me. I have loved my time at Richmond thus far, and was not sure I wanted to sacrifice a semester filled with incredible professors, thoughtful discussions, and strong friendships for a semester alone in a foreign country. I knew if I stayed at Richmond, I could almost guarantee another great semester would ensue. However, two days before the study abroad deadline, I completed the application on a whim.
All throughout February, I thought deeply about whether I should go abroad or stay in Richmond. My Christian faith is integral to who I am and the perspective through which I view my life and the rest of the world. One of my key beliefs is that God has a perfect plan for my life, but discerning if abroad was part of that plan was really difficult. One day I was struck with the realization that God would be with me and would use me no matter what I decided. My God is just as much the God of Madrid, Spain as He is of Richmond, VA. I believe that God has created every person to love different things, and He delights when we pursue the things he created us to love alongside Him. I longed for adventure and to get to know a new place, so after I was accepted into my first choice program, I said yes!
My summer consisted of living in Richmond, VA with a host family and interning for an anti-human trafficking organization and for Hope Church. I fell head over heels in love with Richmond and, for the first time, knew with certainty that Richmond is the place I hope to call my home after I graduate. As sweet as that realization was, it made it that much harder to leave. I barely thought about Madrid all summer, and cried when I left Virginia to go home and prepare for abroad.
However, once I began to get ready to leave, the nerves and excitement settled in. I got to talk to my host mom in Madrid before I left, and was comforted by her warmth and fluency in English. She told me that I would become part of their family, which made my heart happy. I’m all about relationships, and was excited to get to know my two little host brothers, as well as my host mom and dad! She asked me if I like vegetables, legumes, chicken, and seafood…. if you know me, you know that those are some of my all time favorite foods, and food is a BIG deal for me. We made plans to cook together on weekends in Madrid before I even left the United States!
With that, I packed up my 50 gallon backpack, a big black suitcase (capable of smuggling my little brother, 19 favorite books, and 5 lbs of dark chocolate), and drove to Charlotte to catch my flight to Madrid!