Nicole Molitor '24

Program: Spain Semester

Major: Elementary Education

Minor: Hispanic Studies


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?

Before coming to college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I think that it is a great way to challenge yourself and learn about other ways of life in a way that you never could in a classroom. However, before applying I became super nervous about leaving everything I knew behind. It helped to have friends and family that encouraged me and helped me to see that sometimes doing hard things leads to wonderful experiences. I decided on going to Spain because it fit well within my minor requirements and also seemed like a good way to grow my language skills. I think studying abroad is a great experience for everyone, but especially if you want to practice a new language.

Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your program that made a lasting impression.

A couple cultural experiences that made a lasting impression on me were the festivals in April. During April there are two big festivals in Sevilla: Semana Santa and Féria. Both of these festivals, while very different, were a great representation of life in Spain. My host mom loved these festivals and helped me to prepare for them and get a flamenco dress for Féria. Tradition is definitely a big part of the culture in Spain, and you can see this during the festivals. Another thing that you can see is the community between people and the emphasis on families there. Everyone is out in the streets enjoying the company or meeting new people, even when it is one hundred degrees. Learning about the different festivals and customs helped me to gain insight to life in Spain.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

During my study abroad experience, I learned a lot of different things about myself, my classmates, and the world around me. Before this experience, I had never really left the country before, except for a little trip to Mexico when I was younger. I was so nervous before going to Spain that I didn’t know if I could actually do it. I even considered dropping out of the program. However, I am so glad that I pushed myself to do this. I was able to travel and see things I have never seen before. I developed relationships with people who speak a different language than myself, and I was able to immerse myself in a completely different culture. Another thing that was impactful in my experience were my classes. My professors were kind and helpful, and they taught us a lot about Spanish history and culture. Learning about the history and culture of the place I was living in was helpful in my understanding of it. I also was able to try lots of new things that I might not have been able to anywhere else. I can’t believe that I thought about not going because at the end of the program, I thought about not coming back! I absolutely adored Spain, and I definitely want to return in the future.

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?

There are a lot of benefits of spending a semester abroad! I think that going abroad helped me to become more confident, decisive, independent, courageous, and adventurous. It really helped me to get out of my comfort zone and experience totally new things. Personally, I think that studying abroad helped me to become a much more confident person and more independent as well. Going to college definitely helped me to gain more independence, but studying abroad took it to a different level. Academically, Spain helped me to really grow in my language skills. When learning a new language, speaking it everyday helps so much. At first, it’s hard to adjust to the difference in languages, but once you adjust, you start to learn so much! I now feel like I could carry out an entire conversation in Spanish. In terms of professional development, all of these qualities that I gained during study abroad are important to bring into future jobs. Since I am an elementary education major, studying abroad helped me to realize that I want to add Spanish into my future classrooms, and I am even considering teaching at a Spanish immersion school. I wouldn’t trade my study abroad experience for anything, and I want to encourage others to have the amazing experience I did.

What advice can you offer for CSB+SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?

The best advice I have to give CSB+SJU students is to just go for it. Studying abroad can be very nerve-racking. As someone who had never left the country before, I was basically leaving everything I knew behind. That scared me a lot, but looking back, I can’t imagine not studying abroad. This experience is one that will probably never happen again, so it is something that people should do while they have the opportunity. Some days, especially at the beginning, may be harder than others, but through this you can grow in ways you never knew you needed. I am so grateful for this experience, so my advice is to push past the fear and experience all that you can because it goes a lot faster than you think it will.