Why did you choose this program? I chose Seville because I wanted to study in an area where I knew I would be fully immersed in the Spanish language, with minimal exposure to English. I also was very interested in Andalusian culture and I knew studying in a large city in the south of Spain would be the perfect opportunity for me to experience the culture first hand.
Describe your favorite classes abroad. While studying in Seville, I took classes at the local university, La Universidad de Sevilla, and at the study center for CIEE (my study abroad provider). My favorite courses were the ones I took at the university. I enjoyed being able to interact with students from Spain and other countries, while also taking classes taught by local professors. My favorite class was called "Cocinar y Literatura", in this course we read historical texts and analyzed how Spain's food had changed over time. After each text, we would have a cooking class where we would prepare and sample the dish we discussed. At the end of the semester our final project was to create a cook book of all the recipes from the semester. I loved that the students got to do all of the cooking, and it was surprisingly fun to try all of the different types of food.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? One reason I was excited about studying in Seville was because I knew the program had the option for a homestay. I really wanted to live with a family while abroad so that I could develop my language skills. My homestay was located in the outer parts of the city, and was about a 25 minute walk from the city center and university, but I didn't mind since the walk was beautiful! I lived in an apartment with my family. In the apartment was my host mom, host dad, their adult daughter, her boyfriend, and the family dog. I had my own room and we all shared a bathroom. To a lot of people it may sound like a very cramped living situation, but in Spain it's very typical to spend your time outside socializing at cafes or parks, so we never actually spent a lot of time in the apartment and never seemed to be uncomfortable.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? I would tell students, in any type of living situation (dorms, homestay, etc.) that if you aren't happy with your placement don't be afraid to reach out to your onsite staff. Living in a new country is a big adjustment, but it should still be fun! It can sometimes take a try or two to figure out the family or style that is right for you, but the staff are more than willing to try to help you find that fit.
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? Some of my best memories from abroad were from just spending time in the heart of the city. Some days after class, a group of us would go to different cafes and hang out for the afternoon. We would always try a different cafe in a different part of the city, and it was a fun way to discover our favorite places in the large city.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? Since I studied abroad in the spring, I began my time in Spain during their winter season. I knew that the temperature was significantly warmer than our winters here on campus, but I definitely under estimated how cold it could get. I was really surprised at how many warm clothes I needed once the sun went down, sometimes my room even got really chilly. So my surprise was definitely how chilly it still was when I got there in mid-January!
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. Personally, I had a much harder time adjusting back to my life in the U.S. than adjusting to life in Spain. Europeans have a much more laid back lifestyle, and upon my return to the States I immediately started working and began preparing for my return to IU. I felt very overwhelmed by how much my schedule had changed. I went from my Spanish lifestyle (that included the wonderful siesta) to my American lifestyle that was much more jam-packed and busy. I didn't realize how much I became accustomed to this change while in Spain. I think if I had taken a week to slowly adjust back, my shock wouldn't have been such a large one.
“If I could do it over, I would…” If I could do it over, I would have spent more time traveling within Spain. Myself and many other students did a lot of traveling, but much of that was outside of Spain. Although I really enjoyed my weekends in different countries, I feel like I could have explored the northern part of Spain more and gained a larger perspective on Spanish culture.
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I wish that someone had told me that my CIEE student I.D. or my student visa could get me discounted or free tickets to many museums or attractions throughout Europe. I didn't realize this until halfway through the semester and it could have saved me a little bit of money!
What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge was learning to speak up. I was very nervous about my level of Spanish and felt that I didn't know enough to participate in class or voice my opinions in my homestay with my family. The first few weeks were hard because I was just very quiet. However, after the initial weeks of class I realized I wasn't the only student feeling this way, and just like classes here in the States, a majority of my grade was based on participation and discussion. After getting over that fear of sounding silly or saying the wrong things my communication skills improved tremendously.
How did you find scholarships for study abroad? I used the Overseas webpage to find scholarship opportunities. Some scholarships were program specific, some were merit based, and others were through the Spanish and Portuguese Department. Additionally, I found a scholarship within the Hutton Honors College, and was able to receive funding even though I was not a Hutton Student.