Tara Maas

Tara is an Ambassador who studied abroad in Spain
Major: Hispanic Studies

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

One of the things that lead me to me Saint Ben's was all of the study abroad opportunities that are available at CSB-SJU. I knew upon starting at CSB that I wanted to participate in a semester long study abroad program. Throughout my first and second years at CSB, I was going through the process of finding a major. I ended up choosing Hispanic Studies because studying abroad in a Spanish speaking country was very important to me. I choose Spain because I was intrigued to learn about more about the language, culture, history, and daily life.

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

The cultural experience that made a lasting impression during my time in Spain was my home stay with my host family. My host parents were some of the most kind and generous people that I have ever met. There would be many nights when my host mom and dad would just sit and talk with me. We would have conversations about history, family, music, and everything in between. These times were so special to me because I was able to practice my Spanish speaking abilities with my family and learn from my host parents. My mom and dad were able to describe their perspective of Spanish history and the cultural changes that have occurred. Most importantly, my host parents were able to give me lifelong advice from their experiences. My host dad even took the time to write me out a page full of Spanish proverbs that he gave to me as a gift. Overall, my host family taught me the importance of family in the Spanish culture.

Describe your overall study abroad experience.

My time in Segovia was priceless. It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I was able to grow outside of my comfort zone, improve my Spanish abilities, form lifelong relationships, and enjoy life. We had so many fun memories as a whole group though all of our experiences. I was able to travel, go to museums, embrace european culture, adjust to a new way of living, and learn new things about myself. The beauty of Segovia is something that I could never forget and something I am already wanting to return to.

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?

The largest benefit to studying abroad was all of the learning that occurred outside of a classroom. By immersing yourself in the culture, there are so many things that you experience that you can't learn in a classroom. Also, my spanish abilities and confidence greatly improved after being immersed in the language. Overall, spending time abroad has opened up my development to cultural awareness and not being afraid to take risks.

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

My advice to students who are considering or planning to go abroad is just go. Studying abroad is something you won't regret and it will be a wonderful experience. A piece of advice that someone told me since I was so nervous is that the first day is the hardest and it gets so much better every single day. It will become a part of your life and something that influences the rest of your life.

Questions?

Do you have questions about studying abroad in Spain, or want access to my blog? Email Tara at tcmaas@csbsju.edu