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Maura Holt-Ling

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Public Policy, Minors in Social Justice, Hispanic Studies
Program: Universidad San Francisco de Quito / UNC Honors in Washington D.C.
Location: Quito, Ecuador / Washington, D.C.
Term: Fall 2019, Spring 2020


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I decided to study abroad in Ecuador because I wanted to learn Spanish! I had one previous immersion experience beforehand and it was one of the best of my life. I was excited to get the chance to work on my Spanish skills a second time. I've always wanted to be bilingual, and I being immersed was the best way I knew how. I also wanted to experience a new culture and get comfortable being uncomfortable while I learned a new way of life!


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned how much I love learning about new cultures and talking to people in a language that isn't my own. I was so nervous about it beforehand, but I found myself enjoying the little things like taking the bus and going to the grocery store. My host mom always told me when she went to the store, and every time I wanted to go. Even thought it was uncomfortable at times, I wanted to use every possible opportunity to learn and grow from the people and culture around me.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories was when we celebrated Thanksgiving! They don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Ecuador, but one of my American friends hosted a party to celebrate the holiday anyways. We had traditional Ecuadorian food, but we said what we were thankful for and worked in some other traditions too. It was a perfect blend of the two cultures, especially at a time when I was missing my family the most.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Rely on your support system, you will always have one! Use those people. That could be friends back home, program advisors, your host family, etc. if you dwell on concerns and don't seek help, they will continue to fester and won't improve. So many people on your study abroad journey want to see you succeed. Many of them have done it before, They are incredible resources to talk to when you're struggling, and oftentimes, they can help you create a plan of action for an even more successful time abroad.


How do you identify?
Scholarship Recipient