CIEE: Seville, Spain
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Allison Clifford

Major: Psychology (Neuroscience)
Minor: Music Performance (Flute), Biology
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I conducted a search on Penn State's Education Abroad website of programs that would fit the time period and area that I wanted to study abroad. From this search, I was able to identify and then select the program. I was able to discuss with my academic adviser as to how I should plan for my time abroad.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I went into my time abroad with an awareness that my understanding of "normal" was about to be challenged and that I would make memories that I would not ever forget. What I did not anticipate were the ways that I would be challenged to push past my own boundaries. Travelling by myself empowered me to do things for myself and to trust myself. Travelling to a non-English speaking country was scary but incredibly rewarding. The comforts of knowing the language, having family nearby, and knowing my location were not ones that I had while I was in Spain. In the absence of these comforts that, daily, I took for granted at home, I was empowered to move beyond it. Living in a homestay and taking time to learn about the culture and people of Seville, I can say with certainty that my study abroad experience was invaluable and once-in-a-lifetime.

Living in a homestay and taking time to learn about the culture and people of Seville, I can say with certainty that my study abroad experience was invaluable and once-in-a-lifetime.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Academically, I was challenged in a different way that I am usually challenged during the regular semesters. Being in a foreign country, my main priority was to experience the culture and my environment. I quickly found that this priority had to be balanced with my normal priority of academics. Time management became even more important to me because the more I was on top of my academic work, the more time I could have to explore the city and the culture. In addition, I was able to take an art and architecture class that I would not have normally been able to take. This class provided me with a new window to view the history and the culture of Seville.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

My plan for my career is to first graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Neuroscience focus) with minors in Flute Performance and Biology. After that, I plan to attend graduate school to be a Physician Assistant. I hope to specialize in mental health. My time in Spain has given me experience with a culture and with people who are different from me. In addition to giving me a wider perspective and appreciation for other people and their stories, I now have a greater capacity to interact with people by looking for ways that we are similar rather than ways that we differ from each other. This seems a small distinction, but I feel that in both my career and my life, this will be something that I will have to constantly pursue. My experience abroad has given me an awareness of our human tendency to look for our differences and a motivation to pursue the opposite.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would absolutely recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students because of the challenges, the beautiful experiences, and the ways that your perspective will be widened. Before I went, I was the most nervous I have ever been, and when I returned, I was never more sure that I made one of the best decisions of my life.

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