Jessica Clark get a Spanish immersion in Spain.
Senior, Political Science
My Experience Summary:
I had a wonderful time in La Rioja, Spain. I've always wanted to travel to Spain for vacation, but I never thought I'd actually attend a school there. The thought of being in Europe for the first time excited me. One of the differences about Spain and New York are the mountains. They're so beautiful and I actually got to climb one. Well, it wasn't exactly a mountain but when we got to the top, it was like we were on top of the world. The beaches were amazing, the food was delicious. I had the best Paella and arroz con leche. Another plate that I enjoyed was Tortillas con Patatas. Now these aren't the tortilla chips we see in the chip aisle, these are baked potatoes cooked with eggs that can be eaten with ham, cheese, or bacon. This is called a Tapa, which is a small portion of food that is very inexpensive and is usually served with wine. I had tapas almost every night. We went to wine bodegas and some of them were even in caves!
Why I went:
Since I have a passion for learning the Spanish language and culture, I thought that actually living there and attending school there would better my Spanish speaking skills. Also, it's such a great opportunity to appreciate other ways of living outside of the United States. I also would like to continue my education in international studies. So learning firsthand about Spain and their policies was quite an experience.
What I Learned:
I learned that our way of living, our everyday lives aren't nearly the same as others. Because I traveled with other students and lived with them, I learned how to communicate better with others, teamwork, and independence. I also learned how to balance my time with going out and finishing my homework for the next day. Because I was in Spain didn't mean I could party all the time. I also learned that the more you spoke the language to the natives, the more they appreciated you for trying.
I remember hearing about the 'Siesta' for the first time. This means that most stores in Spain shut down for a nap or just to rest for about two to three hours. Then they return or reopen back to work again. I couldn't believe it. I got so used to the 'Siesta Time' that when I returned home I felt weird for not resting.
Advice For Others:
My advice for other students is to go with an open mind, find out more about where you are going beforehand, and remember that you are a representative for your hometown. Also, the natives of the place that you are going to can most likely tell that you are a foreigner, therefore you must be careful so you aren't taken advantage of. My other advice is to encourage the people you know to take advantage of a study abroad program if they can.