Why did you choose to go to Spain for study abroad?
I have studied abroad in Spain twice. I studied at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid the summer before college, and I spent my junior year at the Universidad de Salamanca. I chose to study in Spain because I knew that I wanted to become a Spanish professor. I studied Spanish throughout high school and during my first two years of college, and I was excited about learning more about the language and culture. While studying in Spain, I also took advantage of the opportunity to travel to several other countries: France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Austria, and Portugal.
What was your biggest surprise on arrival to study abroad?
My biggest surprises generally involved cultural differences between the US and Spain related to food ways. I had to adjust to a new diet and a different schedule related to eating. I enjoyed typical Spanish customs like “sobremesa” (It's the time spent, after a meal, sitting around and talking to the other people sharing the meal with you). It can be either lunch or dinner. and I spent many afternoons and evenings visiting neighborhood bars to eat “tapas” and to spend quality time with friends. Although it was a bit of an adjustment at first, the extra time that Spaniards spend with friends and family was one of the most enjoyable parts of my study abroad experience.
What did you learn from study abroad/away?
In addition to becoming fluent in Spanish and learning about Spanish culture, I learned a lot about how Spaniards viewed people from the US. I shared an apartment with three Spanish students who were also enrolled at the Universidad de Salamanca, and we frequently had conversations about this topic. Ironically, in addition to providing me with the opportunity to learn about life in Spain, my study abroad experience allowed me to learn a lot about myself and my own culture.
What is the biggest change that you have noticed about yourself since coming back?
Well, it has been a while since I studied abroad in 1992-1993, but I remember coming back feeling confident and like I could handle pretty much any situation. My time in Spain taught me the value of self-reflection, helped me to see complex issues from multiple points of view, and really allowed me to excel both academically and socially upon my return to the United States.
Why would you recommend study abroad?
Along with the personal and academic growth that students experience while studying away, the skills that students attain while participating in these programs are well-aligned with the qualities that employers are looking for in their employees: flexibility, ability to adapt quickly, solid interpersonal skills, and cross-cultural competency. Given the need for citizens who can successfully negotiate an increasingly interdependent global landscape, a study abroad experience is a solid investment in one’s future.