Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because I wanted to be able to learn Spanish in a country that spoke it on a regular basis as well take courses specific to Spain's culture. I felt that a summer program would best suit my academics & would allow me to study abroad for a significant time without being away for an entire semester.
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. My favorite classes abroad were my Spanish culture classes because although there were many activities inside of the classroom, much of the course was taught through real-life experiences. For example, if we would do a research paper about Gaudi's work, we would conclude the assignment by traveling to a museum about the famous man. Furthermore, our teachers were from Spain and were able to give us their own experiences in the country that we would benefit from throughout the program.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? Throughout the summer I lived with my roommate and my lovely host mother, Maite. Maite only spoke Spanish which was challenging at first, but with time we were both able to understand each other and have in-depth conversations. Each evening, Maite would prepare my roommate and me a traditional Spanish meal which allowed us to get the full experience and try different foods that we would never have tried on our own. Living with a host family was occationally difficult for communication reasons, but I learned so much so quickly and would not trade the experience for the world.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? I would advise study abroad students to enjoy each and every moment of the program and to try every experience that comes their way. It goes by extremely quickly and it is a once in a lifetime experience. Also, studying abroad pushes people out of their comfort zones, and that is fine because one can only learn from it.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory is traveling to Lagos, Portugal where we rented canoes for the weekend and explored the town.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? My biggest surprise was the way that people are much more relaxed about life and truly want to embrace relationships and people.
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. I think that I experienced reverse culture shock the most because I was not prepared for it when returning back home. I was used to constantly communicating in another language and adapting to a culture that I was not familiar abroad; however, that was not the case in the United States.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I wish I had known to pack less.
What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge was the communication barrier.
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” Going abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it makes you appreciate campus so much more.
What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? I think people would be surprised by how loving and caring Spain truly is.