Name: Valerie Martin
Major: Speech Pathology
Program: Temple University
Where: Oviedo, Spain
When: Summer 2008
Best Excursion: Avila
Favorite Dish: Pulpo (octopus), Chorizo a la sidra (sausage cooked in cider)
Next Destination: Greece
Describe your most memorable experience while abroad.
I will never forget my first night in Oviedo. Spain was playing Germany in the Euro cup finals. The city had set up huge projection screens outside where everyone could watch the game. All of the students met to watch the game. Everyone was going crazy, running around and yelling during the entire game. Spain beat Germany 1-0 and the entire city erupted in celebration. It was a tradition that after they won to go and jump in the fountains. We all jumped in the fountains and ran around the city celebrating. It was the most unforgettable way to begin my study abroad experience.
How did the location enhance your academic experience?
Unlike Madrid, Oviedo was not an Americanized city. Almost no one other than the program directors and the students spoke English. Since no one spoke English it forced us to constantly speak the language. I learned more vocabulary in the short amount of time that I was abroad than I ever had sitting in a classroom a few times a week. Every day I would learn new words that I would record in my journal. By the end of the programs I had learned hundreds of new words.
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?
Before I went to Oviedo I was not confident with my language abilities and had listened to the stereotypes that Europeans do not like Americans. This was not the case at all! I was very grateful that all of the people where very patient with the students. The people of Oviedo would speak in ways that we could understand and were excited that we were learning their language and culture. Everyone seemed happy that we were there as students and since Oviedo is a University City the citizens are used to college students. I left Oviedo confident in Spanish speaking abilities.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to a student who is about to study abroad?
I always tell future study abroad students to explore as much as you can while you are abroad. It is important to put yourself out there and to try and speak with the local people. This is the best way to truly learn a language and to understand a culture. Explore as much of the city as possible. Every afternoon after class we would go someone new in the city. There were students on my trip who were constantly consumed with what was going on at home in the USA that they missed out on a lot of experiences. You will be able to talk with your friends, family or significant other as much as would like once you are home, but you will never be able to relive experiences that you missed out on while abroad.