About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Major: English and Comparative Literature, Global Studies; Minor: Hispanic Studies
Program: UNC in Sevilla
Location: Seville, Spain
Term: Fall 2021
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because, especially after months of staying home during COVID, I really wanted to travel and broaden my perspective. I wanted to improve my Spanish while being able to travel to other countries with relative ease, which led to me choosing Spain. The UNC in Sevilla program was a well-established program with a lot of support available to their students, which was very important to me as someone with medication concerns, as well as as someone who was traveling abroad alone for the first time.
What did you learn about yourself?
Like everyone says, I learned that I am a lot more capable than I thought, and will rise to meet challenges as they present themselves. I was also reminded of how much I love to learn and connect with new people, something I had forgotten after almost 2 years in a pandemic.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from UNC in Sevilla was the program trip to Córdoba and Granada for a weekend with some of our professors and program administrators. I learned so much about Spanish history that I never would have learned on my own, and, because we were traveling with people who only spoke Spanish, I practiced my Spanish the whole weekend with them, which was a little different than the trips I took only with my fellow UNC students.
Would you do it again?
As cheesy as it sounds, trust in yourself and your abilities to figure things out--but not too much. It is always good to let someone know where you are, carry a portable charger, etc. And if something feels off, it probably is! I would also say that sometimes people put a lot of pressure on a certain type of experience abroad, but I would say it's truly your experience to. shape. There will not be time to do everything (which just means you'll have to come back!), so it's up to you to decide how you want to spend your time, instead of just trying to keep up with everyone else. That said, do try new things--just maybe don't keep trying them after you've decided they're not for you (for example, Spanish Tinder was not really my thing...)
How do you identify?
Student with a disability
Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
I want to preface this by saying that diabetics can eat whatever they want, as long as they give insulin. But I personally feel my best when eating a lot of plant-based foods, which was pretty difficult when eating out and traveling around Europe. However, I was also featured in a post on my job's Instagram page with my Dexcom on for Diabetes Awareness Month, and I was so excited to share with people what people with type 1 diabetes can do, despite the misconceptions.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
First of all, you CAN study abroad, and don't let anyone tell you that you can't. I understand how many things can get in the way of this experience for us, but the feeling of trusting myself and knowing that I was able to do something that I had dreamt of for so long on my own was extremely rewarding. That being said, it is so important to take care of yourself. Start the process of getting your medication WAY before your trip. Talk to your study abroad advisor and make it known in the application exactly what you need. And make sure the people you're traveling with know it too. I made the mistake on a few occasions of not articulating my needs out of fear that I would seem like a burden or difficult, and ended up in situations that probably could have been avoided otherwise. Live your life, but do not feel bad about setting boundaries when it comes to your health.
If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
Always the UNC team that was there to support us, they were more than will to help me with whatever I needed. My host mom was also extremely accommodating and wanted to know how she could support me.