IES: Madrid (Summer)
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Matthew Jentis

Major: Labor and Employment Relations, Spanish, Human Resources and Employment Relations (M.S.)
Hometown: Millburn, NJ

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about my study abroad experience through the School of Labor and Employment Relations at Penn State. I originally found out about this program through Katelyn Perry, the advisor in the school of Labor and Employment Relations. I learned about all of the Spanish language programs and was able to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country, as well as earn credit toward my Spanish degree. I also used the website Global Penn State to learn about my study abroad program as well as how to apply to it within the deadline timeframe.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My experience studying abroad in Madrid, Spain this summer was one of the most enriching and fulfilling experiences of my life. As a human resources, labor and employment relations, and Spanish triple major, this experience allowed me to understand what it feels like to work, study, and live on a global stage at a later time in my career. Since I was around 10 years old, I have wanted to study abroad in a Spanish speaking country. This past summer, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime through Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and the Schreyer Honors College to live in Madrid with a host family, meet students from across the United States and the world, and take classes taught by Spanish faculty. Additionally, I was able to travel across Spain, as well as to nine European countries and Morocco! This experience truly taught me the importance of international education and self-development and plenty of new information about foreign cultures. Most importantly, I recognized that I could live on my own and apply skills I learned at Penn State, such as leadership and hard work, in a brand new environment.

This experience allowed me to understand what it feels like to work, study, and live on a global stage

How did this experience impact you academically?

I believe my experience in Madrid was academically beneficial because I took Spanish classes that challenged my speaking and communication skills. While I was in Madrid, I took two courses: an advanced Spanish language course and a History of Madrid course. I found the History of Madrid course incredibly interesting. Each class in this course consisted of students walking around the city of Madrid to learn about its different historical sites. One site that truly stuck out to me was the Arc of Triumph, which was a symbol of the dictator Francisco Franco. Overall, these courses were very fast-paced, yet allowed me to understand the importance of language and history within Madrid. Since I returning to Penn State, I have a greater appreciation for Spanish courses and learning how to speak the language well.

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

I truly believe that my study abroad in Madrid this past summer will be extremely beneficial for my career in human resources and employment relations, Spanish language, and labor studies. By living abroad this past summer, I was given the amazing opportunity to learn about Spanish lifestyle and culture. Additionally, I believe that my experience living abroad in Madrid has improved my Spanish language skills in unprecedented ways. I was given amazing opportunities to speak with Spaniards as well as other students. With regard to my overall career, I want to work on a global stage, specifically by incorporating my Spanish language abilities. Consistently speaking and thinking in Spanish were crucial for the development of my language skills for my career.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would recommend this experience to any other liberal arts student interested in studying abroad. I believe that my study abroad in Madrid was truly life changing in that it allowed me to live in another country and become accustomed to the language and culture. This experience will allow other liberal arts students to explore, travel, learn about history and the humanities, and grow as individuals by studying abroad and living on their own.

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

I believe the Paterno Fellows experience had an extremely positive impact on my study abroad experience. Through the Paterno Fellows program, I have been fortunate to study two undergraduate majors, one of which is Spanish, and pursue a master's degree. My study abroad experience was partially influenced by my goal to obtain a Spanish major through the Paterno Fellows program. By studying abroad, I was able to improve my language and communication skills in ways that I would not be able to otherwise. Additionally, I was able to learn more about Spanish culture which I plan to incorporate into my honors thesis for the Penn State Schreyer Honors College.

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