About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Global Studies and Hispanic Literatures and Cultures major, Translation and Interpreting minor
Program: University of San Francisco at Quito
Location: Quito, Ecuador
Term: Fall 2019
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I have always loved Spanish and knew immersing myself in the language was the best way to improve. Also, I love to travel and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to do so while I am young. Studying abroad is a perfect fit for these interests. I chose to study in Quito, Ecuador because I was excited about traveling to a new continent, wanted to ensure I would be speaking Spanish if I left the country on weekends or during breaks, and liked the diversity of Ecuador’s landscapes and wildlife. Ecuador is small but has everything - the Andes mountains, the Amazon rainforest, and the Galapagos Islands. What more could you ask for?
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am capable of living in a country that doesn’t speak my language for four months! I specifically remember a moment on the bus home from school when I realized - I’m doing this. I’m actually surviving in another country - and loving it! Studying abroad is an experience that teaches you to be patient with yourself, flexible with others, and confident in your abilities.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
While it is difficult to choose just one favorite memory, I will never forget walking into my host family’s house in the middle of a full-on pillow fight. I don’t know who started it, but I didn’t hesitate to grab a pillow and join right in. That was an important moment - I felt like a member of my family.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
My program was everything I expected and more. However, I would advise potential study abroad students to be realistic about how much you will speak the language you are trying to learn (if you are studying abroad to learn a language). While my Spanish improved dramatically because all my courses were in Spanish, I spoke exclusively Spanish with my host family, and spoke Spanish in my interactions with Ecuadorians, I spent most of my time with exchange students and we typically spoke English (and I think most UNC students shared this experience). Thus, if you are interested in speaking Spanish (or whatever other language) and only Spanish, spend most of your time with natives because it can be difficult to commit to only speaking Spanish with English-speaking friends.
Would you do it again?
I would absolutely do it again. I think this program was perfect for what I wanted out of study abroad.
How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?
In the future, I am interested in being an ESL teacher. I am learning Spanish so that I have the skills to be able to communicate with the parents of these students that may not speak English.