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Puebla, Mexico: Spanish Language, Art and Mexican Culture (Summer)
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Greta Noll

Major: International Relations, Spanish
Minor: Global Health
Hometown: Cincinnati, OH

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this experience through the Spanish Department at Penn State. I attended a study abroad information night through them and fell in love with the Puebla program as soon as I heard about it!

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I spent 6 weeks in Puebla, Mexico. I lived with a host mother (Hilda), and she cooked all my meals, gave me a wonderful home to stay in, and taught me so much about Mexico and its culture. I also took three classes at a university in Puebla. The classes were comfortable and taught by Penn State faculty. It was very cool to experience what university is like in a foreign country. Additionally, on the trip, I felt like I was given a great experience of Mexico. Part of my program was spent traveling to different cities and states in Mexico. In these places we learned about the history and culture outside of Puebla. One of my favorite excursions was to a pyramid complex, where we were given a tour of the ruins by the archeologist who discovered them! The program director in Mexico was very well-connected and provided us with incredible opportunities throughout the trip.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Since I am majoring in Spanish, one of the requirements is to study abroad. After hearing such great things about this program, I knew it was for me. It is nice that the program is run directly through Penn State because the classes that I took in Mexico transferred smoothly towards the completion of my major. It was also fantastic to take one of my art general education requirements in this setting! While the coursework was rigorous as the classes needed to be completed in six weeks, I found it incredibly rewarding afterward. My ability to write, think, and read in Spanish improved immensely over this time. I came back from Puebla feeling like I had an academic grasp of the language.

This program solidified my love of the Spanish language and gave me the confidence that I need to move forward using it in my everyday life and career.

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

This program solidified my love of the Spanish language and gave me the confidence that I need to move forward using it in my everyday life and career. I already knew that I wanted to incorporate Spanish into my career plans, but having this experience in Puebla made me really appreciate how valuable it is to know another language in an advanced capacity. I gained invaluable conversational skills and, at the very least, confidence in myself to speak and understand Spanish. I hope to work for an international development agency focusing on Latin America, and being immersed in Mexican culture and surrounded by Spanish speakers really helped me realize that I have chosen a career path that I am passionate about!

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would wholeheartedly recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students. The program has been run for over 20 years. The host families that every student lived with were wonderful people, Puebla is an incredibly safe city, and Mexico is just a fun place to experience. The university where I studied began to feel like home, but the best part of the program was living with a host family. I will be impacted forever by the kindness and warmth that I received from my host family. I feel so lucky to now have a Mexican "abuela"!

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

I feel as though the Paterno Fellows Program prepared me for this study abroad experience very well. PFP encourages global engagement and is enthusiastic about finding a program that fits each of its students. Additionally, the vigorous coursework that I have taken through PFP also prepared me for the intense classes in Mexico.

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