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Haile Clayton

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Journalism and Sport Administration
Program: UNC Burch in Spain (Cultural Heritage and Sport)
Location: Madrid and Barcelona, Spain
Term: Summer 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I choose to study abroad because I wanted to experience life in another country and culture, as well as broaden my horizon and scope about the world. Choosing my program was very easy for me, and after I did, I was even more excited to try all of the food, and visit the beautiful landscapes in the country. Growing up, my family hosted two exchange students: one from Spain and one from Chile. I remained very close to my sister from Spain, and she always shared stories about how beautiful her country was. However, aside from having a familiar connection in Spain, I am also very interested in sports, and this program heavily incorporated athletics into the itinerary.


What did you learn about yourself?
Through this experience, I learned how flexible and adventurous I can and love being. We had the weekends and time after class to be autonomous locals, free from the direction of our professors, and during this time, they strongly encouraged us to dive into the culture and take advantage of the freedom. So we did just that! We could plan weekend trips (that involved either taking the plane, train or bus) only days before it happened. Additionally, I learned how mature and strong I really am. To be able to go to a country with an official language that I am not 100% able to understand, but still be able to get around, appreciate and understand the value of the people, their culture and their country is something that I am very proud of.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
My favorite memories from the program are all of the day trips that we took during our visit. For some of our lessons, we hopped on the high-speed train or other modes of transportation, and rode it to different parts of the country to see first hand what the readings taught us. We went to a rope course, zip-line park to team build; we went to Cordoba to learn about the history of the old city; we went to Toledo and learned of the religious diversity of the town; and even to Girona, where we were able to walk the "Passeig de la Muralla" or “Walk of the Wall” that was built by the Romans and protected Girona during the time between the 9th and 14th centuries.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
To people interested in studying abroad, I say go with an open mind for sure. Take the moments of uncertainty as opportunities for growth. I for example, got lost in the metro station my second day of being in Spain. Barely knowing any train or metro vocabulary, I had to ask around and find my way back home, but I learned so much that day about how the metro system worked, and I never made that mistake ever again!


How do you identify?
Student of color


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
For students who share the same identity as me, I would tell them, "Fully immerse yourself in the culture. Don't hold yourself back because of your identity or be afraid to put yourself out there. The way things are done in America, as opposed to other countries, are very different and people are very nice and accepting if you just say hi and let them know you're more than just a loud and annoying American tourist."


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?