Symphony Moser is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Spain
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
I chose to study abroad for many reasons. Studying abroad provides a student with an amazingly unique experience. Being away from home allows one to become more independent and appreciate the cultural differences various countries have to offer. I was lucky enough to visit Spain right after high school and always knew I wanted to go back. Spain was definitely my first choice and I was excited to become immersed in the Spanish culture for a semester. After my semester in Segovia, I have countless friends and an amazing family across the world that I miss dearly and still remain in contact with. That, to me, is priceless. Spain was the choice for me because of the Spanish use as well. Hispanic Studies is my major and Spain requires the highest level of Spanish understanding before going abroad. Being placed with a Spanish couple that did not speak any English was amazingly helpful. Although certain situations were tough during my time abroad because of the language barrier, it also made me stronger and helped me feel more confident in my abilities to communicate in a second language.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
One cultural experience I had during my time in Spain that has stuck with me occurred at the end of my program. My mom and grandma came to visit and travel with me before heading home. We went to a restaurant in Segovia famous for cochinillo, or roast suckling pig. Baby pigs are cooked to complete tenderness and served as a part of special meals. We were presented with an entire roast baby pig and the head chef of the restaurant came out to do the ceremonial cutting. However, this does not occur in the manner I suspected. Rather than a knife, the chef brought out a plate and cut up the portions with the plate. This is to demonstrate how tender the meat is. Then the dishes were plated and given to my family and me. After a semester with an amazing cook for a host mom, I appreciated the culinary skill that went into the cochinillo, but I enjoyed certain dishes more. However, my mom and grandma had not been exposed to a different culture of food. This just proved to me how open and willing I had become to experience different things and made me appreciates the changes that occurred within me during my time abroad.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
Describing my study abroad experience is extremely difficult. Just last night my roommate and I talked for hours comparing the feelings we have now that we have returned. She spent her semester in South Africa and was forever changed by what she saw. Thinking about my time in Spain gives me all sorts of emotions. I am thrilled and blessed to have had the opportunity to expand my horizons and experience a different culture. But I also feel sad at the Spanish host family I left behind. I will never be the same person that I was before my time abroad and I'm glad. Putting yourself in a situation that may be out of your comfort zone is a good thing and allows one to grow as a person. I would not change my experience for anything.
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?
Spending a semester abroad helped me grow as a person in many ways. More than ever before, I want to learn as much as I can about other cultures. My interest in world matters and happenings has increased. I have so many goals and dreams to help others all over the world in any way I can. I'm already itching to travel again and visit other countries. Academically, I am extremely driven to do well and succeed so that I will have the resources to help others. Although I did not experience people suffering from poverty or who did not have the resources available to do well, I know that there are people throughout the world who cannot provide for themselves or their families in the way they would like. My professional goals right now are focused on becoming a speech-language pathologist, and I would like to focus on helping individuals in both English and Spanish. Ideally, I could visit Spanish-speaking countries and help communities that do not have the resources to fix speech issues. I want to give back in any and every way that I can, to whomever I can.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad?
I would recommend studying abroad for anyone who is considering it. But to be fully prepared, you have to realize that there is nothing you can do to be prepared for what you are going to experience or how it will affect you. All you can expect is that you will change as a person and it is an experience and opportunity that you will never have at another point in your life.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in Spain? Email Symphony at firstname.lastname@example.org.