Program and Location:
Semester in Spain: Language and Culture; Santander, Spain
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I wanted to experience other cultures, especially Spanish culture. I also wanted to immerse myself in a Spanish speaking community so I could learn more and practice my Spanish speaking abilities.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am adaptable and resilient if I put my mind to it. I gained a lot of self confidence through study abroad because I was exposed to so many situations that were out of my comfort zone. I learned that you can’t panic when things don’t go as planned because you need to focus on resolving the issue.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
I thoroughly enjoyed living with a host family. I was nervous about this aspect of my program going into it but it turned out to be one of the best parts of studying abroad. By living with a family I learned so much more about Spanish culture than I would have living in an apartment. I was exposed to traditional cuisine, meal times, family roles, political parties (via the nightly news) and much more. This experience has given me a vast amount of insight to another culture, which I greatly value as an American citizen.
How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside the traditional classroom?
The classes were different in this program because there was a major focus on Language and Culture. So we weren’t in class all day like in the U.S. We had class in the morning and then we were expected to go home to have lunch with our families because that’s the most important meal in Spain and everyone goes home for it. There was a lot of emphasis on getting out into the community and spending time with our host families. There was less emphasis on tedious homework assignments because that takes time away from learning through interaction. We also took a lot of group weekend trips around Spain. This really helped us learn about Spanish culture in the different regions.
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
Do your research. Make sure the program and culture of your intended country are right for you. It’s very important to be aware of culture differences when you’re going into a situation like this. That way you know more of what to expect once you get there. This will make it a more positive experience for you and those you interact with.
Would you do it again?
Yes, 100%. Studying abroad in Santander, Spain was the best semester of my life. I would do anything to go back to Santander.
This post was originally published in Study Abroad.