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Gwen Lauer

Major: Psychology
Minor: Art History
Hometown: State College

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found my program through Penn State Global website. I looked for a program that I could continue my Psychology major and enrich my Art History minor, and this seemed like a great opportunity. 

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My time abroad has given me a chance to reflect on my time at Penn State. I can continue my studies but in a completely new environment and culture. My classes here in Barcelona are much smaller and each person is present in class rather than being one in a 300 person class. This has given me the opportunity to feel more comfortable talking in class and asking questions. I've also been more able to build relationships with classmates and professors. Being abroad also allows for amazing weekend trips. The most valuable trip to me so far was when I took a solo trip to Corboba. I went there to see the Mosque Cathedral, which was amazing. This allowed me to see the history and the art I have learned about. It was also a good experience to learn how to be completely on my own in an unknown place, doing whatever I wanted. I learned to enjoy my time and live in the moment as well as gain independence.

"I can continue my studies but in a completely new environment and culture."

How did this experience impact you academically?

My classes here are much different than at main campus. I am used to being one person in a large class with a few exams that determine my grade. It is easy to slide by in such a large class and not be called out on things. However, here classes are very small and it is known when you are slacking off and miss class. The small classes allow for much more class discussions and reflections on our home cultures and experiences here.

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

I am still not sure what I want to do after school. My time abroad has helped me become more independent and culturally aware, and those two things will help me in any situation or career I choose to pursue. I really enjoy traveling, learning and seeing new things. Having this time abroad has helped me become a better traveler and has given me stories and experiences to share. More cultural awareness gives me more ability to connect with others. Traveling has given me the opportunity to see many buildings and artworks I have learned about in my Art History classes. It is much more powerful to see these things in person.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Taking time to experience a new culture is very important for everyone. It's an amazing experience where you meet many people from other places, see amazing things, experience new cultures, and learn about yourself. However amazing time abroad is, it is also challenging. It is hard to remove yourself from what has become normal and comfortable and go to a country where they speak a new language and have a different culture and where you know no one. Being put in a new place is scary but being able to adapt and grow is a very important skill to have.

For more information on global opportunities for Liberal Arts students, visit our website. 
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