About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: EXSS (pre-nursing) & minor in spanish for the medical professions
Program: UNC in Sevila
Location: Sevilla, Spain
Term: spring 2020
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I elected to study abroad because my family has always hosted international exchange students from all over the world including Spain and Germany and I wanted to be on the other side of a cultural exchange. Because of this early introduction to different cultures, I knew that I wanted to challenge myself and boundaries by studying abroad for an entire semester. I selected Spain because I have had a natural love and inclination toward Spanish. After talking to an abroad advisor I realized that Sevilla would be a good fit for my lifestyle in terms of a good climate and a challenging living situation where I would be living with a host family (offering a complete cultural immersion).
What did you learn about yourself?
Through this experience, I realize that I have the ability to express myself in a different cultural while respecting the boundaries of the cultural climate. I also learned a great deal about my personal boundaries with regards to having my own space and that I had the true authority to participate in as many or little outings with the people in my program (and later friends) as I wanted without having to feel weird for staying in or going out. It was a significant time of growth and I also learned that it is not a bad thing to ask for help when you need it. For example, I had to see the on-site psychologist because I was facing many challenges that ended up shaping who I am today.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories in the program was traveling to Rhonda, another town in Spain, with everyone in my program. This was really special because we chose to do this outing all on our own without our program directors (and everyone from the program went!). It was the first day that our weather was completely sunny and we saw magnificent blue caves and a different landscape than Sevilla offered. It gave us a significant feeling of independence and allowed us to branch out into other places in Spain we may have not otherwise explored directly through the program schedule.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I would preface my conversation by saying that at some point abroad, everyone will face their own adversity. For some people, it may be the idea of having a roommate from France sharing your space, for others it may be the challenge of finding foods to eat (for one of my friends this was a big deal) that you like, or others it may be the dynamic between you and your host mom. I would reassure these students that this is part of the growth period that is inevitable in the experience. I would also remind them that there are many on-site resources for them to use including a psychologist, teachers that genuinely care for their wellbeing and transition, as well as their program director who is always open to hear what's going on with their lives.
Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
One of the best qualities that is beneficial to have for a student abroad is openness and flexibility as well as humor. I would argue that as a person who possesses these traits, they allowed me to face unforseen challenges and opportunities with grace. I would also tell future students that they do not need to change their identity abroad, but rather stay true to themselves throughout the experience.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
I would recommend staying true to your boundaries!
If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I turned to my program director, housing director, and the on-site psychologist.