Stephanie Pierson

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Major: History; Minor: Spanish
Program: API Granada: Summer Spanish Language and Culture Studies
Location: Granada, Spain
Email: spierso@email.unc.edu
Term: Summer 2022

 

Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to improve my Spanish skills while being surrounded by history and different cultures. I selected my program in Granada specifically because of Granada's size, rich history, and lasting Islamic and Arab influences.

 

What did you learn about yourself?
I learned how to be more independent, adaptable, and self-motivated from studying abroad. I was really interested in experiencing specific cultural sites while I was in Spain, and I became really comfortable with exploring Granada on my own.

 

What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories was when I visited the Mosque of Cordoba with some of my friends from my program. It was the oldest building I had ever been in (the structure dates back to the 9th century), and as a history buff who had studied the Mosque in high school, finally being able to see it in person felt like everything was coming full-circle.

 

What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I think it's important to remember that there are people there to support you while you are abroad -- from program directors, your host family, and friends who are studying abroad with you.

 

How do you identify?
Student of color, LGBTQ+, Scholarship Recipient

 

Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
My Blackness played a large role in my time abroad. My study abroad location, and Spain as a whole did not have a lot of Black people living there. This manifested itself in different ways, from clothing stores only having clothes catering to white people's sizes, or from class discussions on African immigration to Spain. In conversations with my host mom, I learned about her perspective on race, which was very different from my lived experience as a person of color.

 

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
My advice to other students is to find people in your program who share your identities if you can, and then lean on them for support when you need it. Even if they don't share every marginalized identity with you, their perspective as a U.S. student who shares some of your cultural ideas could be beneficial when you're going through a rough patch.

 

If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I was able to talk to other American students from my study abroad program.

Memories

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