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Blake Strong

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: EXSS (major) Spanish for the Health Professions (Minor)
Program: UNC in Sevilla
Location: Sevilla, Spain
Term: Summer 2021


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad particularly because I have a minor in Spanish for the Health Professions. I felt as if studying abroad would give me great exposure into the Spanish language and culture. I feel as if you can only learn so much Spanish in a classroom. I chose to study abroad with UNC in Sevilla because (1) it allowed me to receive the most credits towards my Spanish minor and (2) because I know Sevilla is a beautiful city with great people.


What did you learn about yourself?
Through this experience I learned that I am able to take on adversity. As a Black female, it can be especially difficult to emerge into new experiences/situations. Additionally, I am typically not the most outgoing person. From this experience, I learned how to open myself up to meet new people and enjoy a new experience. The experience taught me that there is so much more to life than the little life I live in North Carolina. This experience taught me that I enjoy traveling and emerging into new cultures because with new cultures you learn more about others and not only appreciate them and their culture, but you also learn to appreciate individuality and the differences amongst myself and others. I also learned that I enjoy meeting people different from myself because you learn so much that way.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
My favorite memory from my program was traveling to Barcelona with some of the students in my program. The plane ticket cost was extremely cheap. In addition Barcelona was nothing short of amazing. I was in shock at life in Barcelona. The people, the culture, the lifestyle, I loved it all. I was sad my friends and I were only able to stay for a weekend. Because there was were so many great memories made while abroad, I would also have say a favorite memory would be my entire stay with my host mom. I absolutely LOVED her. She was so amazing and understanding. I could talk to her about anything.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
My advice for future students who may face uncertainties is to always vouch for yourself. If you never speak up, no one will know that a specific situation/instance was uncomfortable for you.


How do you identify?
Student of color, Scholarship Recipient


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Studying as a Black female played a major role in my time abroad. Beforehand, my advisor in Sevilla advised me that there were not many Black people in Sevilla or Spain alone, as she herself was Black. She advised me that people may look or make comments about my race. Not that they are trying to be offensive, but simply because Black people in Spain is not common. Once I arrived in Sevilla, my host mom told me the same thing, and she also advised me that it would be out of curiosity. As they were correct, I did often time get looks or comments about my race but it was never in a derogatory way. I was always in admiration. While in Sevilla, I had box braids, which is a hairstyle associated with Black women. Many a times, Sevillanos would comment how much they loved my hair and loved the length of my hair. Everywhere I went, Sevillanos would refer to me as pretty or gorgeous. So personally, my identity positively affected my experience. I enjoyed answering the questions of those inquiring about my hair or lifestyle and loved receiving the nice comments.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
I would advise students who share my identity to embrace the looks and questions. Its all done out of curiosity and admiration. It never hurts to give others insight on your life and in the process you are teaching them and helping them understand culture different from theirs.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?