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Molly (Mary) Warden

About My Study Abroad Program

Major/Minor: Biology/Spanish for the Medical Professions
Program: UNC Spanish in the Galapagos
Location: San Cristóbal, Galápagos, Ecuador
Term: Summer 2023


Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I chose to study abroad because I had never previously left the United States, and I wanted to improve my Spanish speaking abilities through immersion in the language. I liked that my program involved staying with a host family, and the Galapagos are such a unique and beautiful location to visit and study.


What did you learn about yourself?
This program really helped to improve my confidence in my Spanish speaking, and it opened my mind up to an entirely different part of the world. I learned so much from my host family about Ecuadorian and Galapagueño culture, and the bonds I formed with them taught me just how powerful the ability to communicate in another language can be.


What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories from my program was snorkeling at Kicker Rock, a rock formation near the island I stayed on, with my professors and other members of my program. We saw hammerhead sharks and a huge school of turtles, and I really enjoyed hearing our tour guide talk about the wildlife in Spanish.


What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
I was extremely nervous about my trip since I had never left the United States before, but what helped me most was to talk to the other members of my program and my professor. I found that the friends I made in my program were experiencing a lot of the same fears before the trips and occasional frustrations during the trip, and talking to them about it or to my professor, who is extremely experienced in leading study abroad programs, helped me a lot.


How do you identify?
LGBTQ+, Student Athlete, Scholarship Recipient


Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
I was scared that being a member of the LGBT community would be really difficult in the Galapagos, but I found that everyone I disclosed my identity to was very accepting. I felt scared to come out to members of my program at first, but everyone was very accepting and open.


Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
I would validate that being afraid of discrimination in any foreign country is completely valid, but if you can't find solace in your host family or those native to the country, you can most definitely find support from your peers in your program and your professors.


If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I could get support from my UNC professor, my professor from USFQ, which was the partner university for our program, and all USFQ staff available to me abroad including a psychologist employed by the university.