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Major: Biochemistry, Spanish
Program: Temple in Spain
Where: Oviedo, Spain
When: Summer 2007
Best Excursion: Orientation week in Madrid
Favorite Dish: Gazpacho
Next Destination: Hopefully back to Spain and a trip to Italy and Portugal; hopefully Brazil one day.
What did you learn to love about the culture(s)?
What I loved most about the culture of Spain is that there is a defined culture. During the orientation week our group visited Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, and a few other important cities in Spain. The history of each city dates back thousands of years. Comparing this with the history of the United States (less than 200 years), one could imagine how much more there is to ‘take in’ while abroad. The way the cities are designed, how they look, etc., is how it is because of a deep-rooted culture.
In Spain, I also loved how laid back the people are compared to the ‘go go go’ lifestyle of the United States and specifically in Philadelphia; it was a breath of fresh air. I didn’t realize how ‘stress free’ I could be until it all went away when I was abroad. Granted, I still did my school work and worked hard for my grades, but it’s different in Spain (different in the best kind of way). It’s more of a ‘deal with things as they come’ lifestyle, rather than trying to do everything at once. If you have been to Spain, you understand what I’m saying. If you haven’t been to Spain, I highly suggest taking a trip to see what this is all about.
What was one fear you had before going? Would you have this same fear if you were going to study abroad again? Why or why not?
One fear that I had before studying abroad is that I would have a lot of problems communicating with the people and adapting to the culture. However, during my actual experience abroad, I encountered no problems with this. I’m a pretty adaptable person, and I love change. I took the differences in cultures as a challenge rather than regressing when I ran into problems or situations that I was not comfortable in. Also, with the language, I found that when I was placed into a situation where I had no option but to succeed, I did. This experience has improved my confidence and if I were to study abroad again, I would be excited to encounter the culture of other countries.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?
One piece of advice that I would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad is to mentally prepare yourself so you can take full advantage of the opportunity. What I mean by ‘mentally prepare yourself’ is be prepared for the cultural changes, language barriers, etc. Research the country so you can learn about what you will encounter. Also, make the best of your time while abroad. When I was in Spain, I was lucky enough to travel with some of my friends to Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Paris. My mindset was ‘when am I ever going to be able to do this again?' so my friends and I planned the best summer of our lives.