Jill is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Spain
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad because what better way is there to learn a language than to become fully immersed? And, what better place is there to study Spanish than in Segovia, Spain? In general, I had always been interested in studying abroad because it sounded awesome and I wanted to experience what it was like to live in another country.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
I participated in an "intercambio" (a language exchange) with a Spaniard. We met a couple times a week, speaking Spanish half of the time and English the other half. This experience markedly improved my Spanish conversational skills. We discussed a variety of topics such as cinema, our aspirations, and the economic crisis in Spain. We became good friends and still keep in contact.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
My study abroad experience was incredible and unforgettable!! I really enjoyed living with a host family because it was interesting to get a glimpse of the day in the life of a Spanish family. Meal times were fun because we caught up, watched the news and discussed it. The food was very delicious and it was exciting learning all about typical Spanish dishes. They even showed me how to make "Tortilla Española", which is a popular dish in Spain. A few highlights during my stay were: going downhill skiing with my host family, going on various excursions with my classmates (e.g. Barcelona, Toledo and more), walking through the streets of Segovia every day, running a half marathon there, and watching the Holy Week Processions late at night in Sevilla in the midst of massive crowds that lined the sidewalks along the route.
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
A benefit of spending a full semester abroad is that you are able to get an in-depth view of the country. You are not a tourist but actually a resident for those four months. My experience there helped teach me to slow down and observe my surroundings. It is such an integral part of the culture. Every day in Spain, there is "siesta time" which occurs between 2 pm until 5 pm. During this time, Spaniards usually go home to eat lunch and they relax before they head back to work in the evening. After studying abroad in Spain, I have appreciated the "down time". My Spanish-language skills in general have improved greatly, especially my comprehension. While I was abroad, I learned to be patient and persistent as I studied Spanish because some days I would have a harder time understanding the language than other days. I have become more open-minded and aware of the world around me. Watching the news everyday with my host family kept me up-to-date with Spanish and world news. I plan to continue studying Spanish after I graduate and I'm hoping to use it during my career.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
Study abroad is wonderful and life changing!! I really enjoyed my experience! Live in the moment because study abroad program flies by. I would recommend that interested students attend the study abroad information sessions offered at CSBSJU. Also, I would tell them to write down some preliminary goals they would like to accomplish as well as their interests. Afterwards, they are likely to get a better idea of which program is most compatible with their goals and interests. Talking to past students who have studied abroad in the country of interest is also a great idea. You can learn how they chose their program and how their actual experiences compared with their expectations.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Spain? Email Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org.