Class of 2015
Biology Major and Spanish Minor
When selecting Barcelona, Spain, as her destination for a BCA study abroad experience, Lizzie Styles never dreamed her love of running would lead to her winning the 2014 Wings for Life World Run for Spain.
A member of Bridgewater College’s cross country and track teams, Lizzie knew the importance of staying in shape while she was studying in another country. “I made an effort to run every day and competed in five races,” she said.
Lizzie’s favorite race – which she won as the last woman still running – was a global adventure that included more than 35,000 runners from 32 countries racing at the same time in a unique format. The winners were the last female and male still running after all of the other racers had been eliminated by the “catcher car.”
Leaving the starting line 30 minutes after the last runner, the “catcher car” steadily increased its speed eliminating racers when it caught up to them. “Basically, the faster you run, the further you have to run,” commented Lizzie. For her efforts, Lizzie ran more than 22 miles with a time of two hours and 43 minutes. She finished in 45th place out of all the women who competed in the races worldwide and was the ladies winner for Spain.
Sponsored by the Wings for Life Foundation, the race served as a fundraiser for spinal cord injury research. Lizzie raised more than 100 euros by running for those who can’t.
During her semester in Barcelona, Lizzie embraced learning the Spanish language first-hand and becoming part of another culture. Living with a single woman and her nine-year-old daughter, Alba, neither of whom spoke English, provided Lizzie with an excellent opportunity to practice her Spanish.
“I was no longer a tourist at the end of my trip,” she said. “I had my favorite cafés and bars where the people who worked there knew my name and what I wanted to order. I loved feeling like Barcelona was my home and Alba called me her sister.”
In addition to running and studying at the Universidad de Barcelona, Lizzie swam in the Mediterranean Sea, attended a flamenco show in a mountain cave and volunteered at a homeless shelter. She also participated in an international church where she met people from all over the world.
Lizzie said her study abroad experience has taught her to enjoy every moment. “I knew I would probably not be able to do the things I was doing in Spain ever again, so I learned to live in the present.”