Omar is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Spain
Minor: Economics and Hispanic Studies
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad in Spain for many reasons. The first and most important reason that I went was that I wanted to become more fluent in Spanish. I grew up speaking Spanish, but over the years my proficiency has declined. Spain presented me with an excellent opportunity to improve my Spanish. Secondly, going abroad was something that I’ve been wanting to do since I first heard about it. When I was ten, somebody told me about their study abroad experience and I knew immediately that it was something I was going to do. Part of the reason I came to CSBSJU was because of the highly rated study abroad programs they have, and it lived up to my expectations
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
Here in the states it is perfectly normal to invite a friend over to your house and hang out with them. In Spain it wasn’t quite as normal. During my time, I realized the importance of social gathering. Locals, young children, and teens alike gathered in the city center on Friday and Saturday nights. There are bars where tapas are served and friends meet up, seldom do people hang out in ones house. This small town community feeling was similar to the CSBSJU one we share, except it is one that an entire city takes on. This helped me appreciate hanging out and just talking with friends over coffee, something I rarely did stateside.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
I fell in love with Spain the instant I arrived. My host family picked me up from the city center and they treated me like I was part of the family. I had 2 host siblings, a 20 year old brother and a 14 year old sister. While I was there, I spoke Spanish so frequently it became second nature. However, while I was there I didn’t believe my Spanish had improved that much. It was only until I talked with my real parents that I noticed how easy it had become to have a conversation in Spanish. It took me twenty minutes to walk to class, but it never felt that long. I could see the aqueduct for most of my walk and the sight of it never got old.
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?
Going abroad, especially because English was not the first language, helped me become a more confident person. Realizing that I had to adjust to somebody else’s culture made me uncomfortable at first, but after a while I embraced the Spanish lifestyle. Professionally, this experience helped me with interpersonal skills because living with different customs made me more understanding of other people’s differences.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
If you are able to study abroad, do it. Whether you live with a host family or live in an apartment with fellow Bennies and Johnnies, you may never have a chance to have this experience again. Another great aspect about studying abroad was that I befriended people who I would have never met before if I had not studied abroad.