Where did you go? When?
Bilbao, Spain in Spring 2010
Would you recommend this location to another student? Why?
I would absolutely recommend this program to other students for many reasons. The program is small enough where the staff knows everyone and they really go above and beyond to make sure all the students are happy. On many occasions, instead of class we would have field trips, which were not only fun but helped you learn much more than you would in the classroom!
What was your most memorable experience/day/moment?
During the spring semester we had 2 weeks off of school. My friend and I decided to plan a trip throughout Spain, however, this quickly turned into me planning the trip by myself. This is something I wouldn't normally be comfortable doing so we ended up just winging most of it. Although there were plenty of snags along the way, it was the best trip of the semester because we stumbled upon many things we otherwise wouldn't have!
What was your worse experience?
The first day arriving in Bilbao was definitely one of the most challenging. It was the first time I would be meeting my host family. After finally finding each other in a crowd of people at the bus stop I quickly realized that she spoke absolutely no english. Then we got a taxi and took a long, mostly silent, taxi ride to her home. That night at dinner she asked many, many questions of which I only understood a few. Even the questions I did understand I had trouble answering them! This was a major blow to my confidence since I had been in Spanish classes since high school. Somewhere near the third week, however, we were much better at communicating to each other. By the end of my 5 month stay we had many long conversations that were easy and comfortable.
If you have the opportunity to do a homestay I would highly recommend it! I probably learned more from my host mother than I did in any of my classes. There is no better way to learn about a culture than to live it!
What are the benefits of study abroad? (Personal/Academic)
While abroad I improved my Spanish speaking skills tremendously. I was also lucky enough to take both business and Spanish classes while abroad so when I returned I was not behind credit wise with either my major or minor.
Since studying abroad I have such a different world view. I am able to think of things on a global scale rather than an individual or even in terms of the United States. This whole experience has helped to me grow as a person, I am much more independent and confident in myself now than before.
What advice would you give someone considering study abroad?
If you are considering studying abroad I would say to go for it! Even though it can be a daunting idea to be away from home for so long the rewards are well worth it! You will have the opportunity to meet so many people from around the world and not only learn about new cultures but be able to experience them first hand.