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Skylar Smith

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Political Science and Global Studies, minor in Spanish for the Business Professions
Program: Spanish for the Professions Business Minor-CINECU
Location: Sevilla, Spain
Term: Summer 2019


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I have always been passionate about traveling and chose UNC specifically for its extensive Study Abroad programs. I was just itching to travel to another country and I have never been overseas before so studying abroad was my chance to finally do this. I chose my program because I have always wanted to travel to Spain. I love the culture and history and have always wanted to experience a summer there. Sevilla also stood out to me because I have heard many positive things about Sevilla from a TA and other friends who have previously studied abroad there. One of my Spanish professors introduced the program to me when I said I was planning on taking the business route for the minor. I also wanted a study abroad program that was in a different language so that I could improve my Spanish. This program fit perfectly into what I was looking for.


What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I am a lot more capable of trying new things and putting myself in situations outside of my comfort zone than I originally thought. I also never thought that I could travel alone but now I am a pro at it. I learned that I am very resourceful and thrive in situations that challenge me. I surprised myself by trying all kinds of new food and conversing with my host mom in Spanish each day. I thought my Spanish was horrible and didn't think that I would talk a lot but being in that situation just made me want to communicate as best I could without worrying if my Spanish was perfect or not.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
There are so many to choose from that it is hard to decide. My favorite memory from the program is probably the trip to Cordoba and Granada. Granada was two different days so we got to see more of the city. The last day we went to the Alhambra, which I had never heard of before. I love history so this was the perfect trip for me. The Alhambra was a royal palace from the Muslim rule and later was the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was my favorite place because of the views of the city and mountains but also because we got to walk in the room where Christopher Columbus proposed his idea of sailing to America to Ferdinand and Isabella. It was crazy to know that I was standing in the same room where something so important in history took place. The palace in general is just so different from any architecture I have seen before. I was in awe the whole time.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Go into your program with an open mind and do not let your fears get in the way. It sounds cheesy but is definitely helpful because being in a new country is scary and very intimidating. If it is a program in a different language do not be afraid to speak and mess up. That's how you learn. You'll regret it if you do not take advantage of this opportunity to improve your language skills and experience a new culture. Also, time goes by really fast so do not put things off, try as many things as you can. Your program will be over before you know it so take full advantage of your time. Lastly, talk to the locals. I learned a lot just from having conversations with my host mom and other locals during my time in Spain.


Would you do it again?
I would absolutely do it again. I am even looking into studying abroad again at some point before I graduate in 2021. I had an amazing experience and was really sad to leave Spain. I hope to go back again soon!


How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
My classes abroad were very similar to classes at UNC since my program was UNC faculty led. The layout of the courses and the requirements were the same. The only difference being that they were in the summer so they were at a fast pace. We also had one professor that was from Sevilla that taught a class on immigration. This was more of a discussion based class but still similar to other classes at UNC. The classes were enriched by our experiences in Spain because we were able to understand things we learned in class first hand by experiencing them either in the apartment with our host moms or from other activities/exchanges in Sevilla.


How do you identify?
Scholarship Recipient, Rural County Resident


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Coming from a small town in Western North Carolina I was very nervous to live in a country on another continent. The first week was definitely a transition to get used to the food and language. There is not a lot of diversity in my town so I really enjoyed getting to live in a different country.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Do not let financial worries get in your way of studying abroad. There are tons of resources available to help you go abroad no matter your financial circumstances. I was afraid that I was not going to be able to afford a summer program but with the help from the Excel Grant and a scholarship from my hometown I did not have to pay for the majority of my trip. Just do your research and you will be able to find financial assistance. Also if you come from a rural county do not let studying abroad intimidate you. Take this once in a lifetime opportunity while you can. Traveling opened my eyes and provided me with experiences I would not have if I stayed in the U.S.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
The staff was always really helpful at CINECU as well as the UNC staff. We had their phone numbers and could always call or text if something was wrong or if we needed help or something else. My host mom was also really supportive and always there if we needed her.