Mary is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Spain
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
The day to day life of the typical Spaniard is what made a lasting impression on me. From daily siestas to two hour dinners and an unspoken consensus throughout the entire population to never be on time for anything, the Spaniards know how to ease up, relax, take things slow, and enjoy life on a daily basis. For someone as me who likes life to be structured, practical, and efficient, the Spaniards taught me that sometimes it's important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and enjoy the beauty of life in the company of others.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Each day in itself was a new experience. You're constantly being tested to your extremes, but in a healthy environment. There were days where listening to Spanish 24/7 was so exhausting for my brain that I had to go to bed early, but other days where I would be watching TV with my family and forget that I was even listening to Spanish because I understood it so well. You go through these ups and downs so quickly that you learn to adapt to any and every situation.
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?
My experience was very enlightening for me in that it opened my eyes to all the things I didn't realize I was capable of doing. As more times passes after my experience, the more I am realizing how much it impacted me. Before studying in Spain I would have already described myself as a very independent person, but now that I have spent the semester abroad and have returned home, I'm surprising myself at how confident I have become as an individual. Living in Spain for four and a half months made me realize that I'm truly capable of anything that I put my mind to. The most difficult obstacle for me to overcome was the language barrier, but over time I was able to effectively communicate with my non-English speaking family for the entire semester. When you aren't a native speaker even something as simple as mailing a letter at the post office becomes an event, but somehow the confidence that I gained has translated into my perspective on life. Now I know that as long as I am determined, even in the most difficult of situations, I have the ability to succeed.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
The first week or so is extremely chaotic, but after you become adjusted you gently fall into a new routine. While becoming familiar with a routine, even a new one, is comforting, don't forget to strike a balance between comfort and adventure. The days fly by faster than you'll imagine and leaving with no regrets is important.
Email me firstname.lastname@example.org for the link to my blog.