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Tia Robinson

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Major in Biology, Minoring in Spanish for the Medical Professions and Studio Art
Program: UNC Science in Sevilla
Location: Sevilla, Spain
Term: Summer 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Beginning with my year of starting kindergarten, I've had the honor of receiving my schooling in the language of Spanish. My mother had enrolled me in a program called SPLASH, where I was instructed in the Latin language up until middle school and later in high school continued taking it. I knew that coming into my years here at UNC, studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country was not a need but a must. For a few years I had planned to study abroad in Spain, however after seeing that the chance to not only study there, but to also complete courses that followed my biology major, I knew that this was the program that called to me. Also seeing that the program courses were being instructed by two Professors who happened to be joint by the unity of marriage, I felt that the environment of the program would be one of care.


What did you learn about yourself?
During my almost two months abroad, I learned that I have so much admiration for people who genuinely care about others. I also learned that when I feel overjoyed to be around those people, I should not be afraid to let them know how much I appreciate their character. I was able to meet those kinds of individuals during my study abroad within my professors as well as my peers. The connections that I was able to make with them will stay with me forever, and the most important thing I learned about myself is that my feelings should be expressed in the moment without any hesitation. It's extremely liberating. Every moment that I lived through made me more and more appreciative of life and the people that I allow to be in mine. I also learned that I love squeezing lemon juice on every meal!!


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my dearest memories from the program is one that was made while attending one of our program fieldtrips. This was the first outside-of-Sevilla, the city we studied in, field-trip we had taken as a group and it ended up being a splendid experience. While walking through the charming city of Cordoba after having a tour of their Mosque-Cathedral, I ended up walking alongside our professor's nine-year old daughter. I am not quite sure of what all our conversation consisted of, but I do recall her saying that she was extremely hungry! And after a while, she began to say "lunch" but extended the syllable out as long as she could and repeatedly said the word about three more times... and then I joined in on her chant. This was the most hilarious thing ever, us walking with our tour group, in the heat of the day at 1pm saying "lunch" because it was a long long hot day of travel and if you listened close enough, everyone else's stomach had joined in on singing to the chant that their daughter had made.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I say go for it! My biggest uncertainty about studying abroad, and the main reason why I almost did not apply, was because I did not think there would be other people who looked like me. Going to a PWI and being in classes where I am usually the only black student, let alone student of color did not help in reassuring me that there would be people in my program who inherently understood me in ways that others simply could not. I went out on a whim, still applied, and coincidentally ended up studying with people who made me feel like I was meant to be studying when and where I was studying. Warmed the heart. I say if you have the same uncertainty as I, just go for it and the family that you make while abroad will lift you up.


How do you identify?
Student of color, Military/Veteran/GI Benefits, Scholarship Recipient


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
There was once specific instance where it played a role, however I would not like to go into detail because it was a stressful situation. However, it does not at all affect the experience that I had the pleasure of having.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
I would say there are many scholarships that can aid in financially affording for your time abroad. I would also say that if you are also a student of color and are nervous about others around you not having similar appearance as you to still go and apply. It can be terrifying to put yourself out there, but if one hasn't yet taken the time to go outside of the U.S, doing it during your years here will be the experience of a lifetime.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I turned to my UNC Professors who instructed my biology courses. They were extremely understanding of the situation and allowed students to confide in them as needed. Very respectful and kind people.