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Ronda, Spain: Spanish Language and Culture (Summer)
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Christopher Carver

Major: Labor and Employment Relations
Minor: Spanish
Hometown: Newark, DE

How did you learn about this opportunity?

During the final week of my Spanish 2 class, my professor first introduced the study abroad opportunity to us. I followed up by attending a an information session. After attending the meeting, I knew I wanted to apply.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I was in Spain for six weeks from mid-May to late June. The host city I was in is called Ronda, located in the Andalusia region in southern Spain. I stayed with a welcoming family that helped me assimilate to Spanish culture smoothly. It helped that the house was not far from the school I took classes at as well. While I was there I took three classes (9 credits) in a small classroom setting, typically with 4-8 students. The best parts of the trip were when we traveled to the other Spanish cities. My favorite was Madrid, but we also traveled to Salamanca, Cadiz, and Seville. Each city had its own unique history and part in Spanish culture. It was good to be able to see all parts of the country.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I have been studying Spanish since my 7th grade year, and being in Spain allowed me to have real world experiences that I will always remember. It took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to solve problems using the language. In the classroom, we were highly encouraged to not only speak in Spanish but to think in Spanish. If there was a word someone did not understand, we would use the Spanish vocabulary we had to clarify as much as possible. Unlike in the United States, we usually did not have the option to leave Spanish class and speak English among friends. The directors of the program made us sign contracts promising to speak Spanish as much as we could. It was challenging, but the task is feasible and helped me improve my speaking skills a lot.

There are only so many things you can understand by reading a book and seeing pictures; studying abroad will allow you to understand another culture because you are a part of it.

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

I hope to get involved with educational and public policy for my career, and being bilingual could set me apart from other candidates, especially since the Spanish speaking community in the United States is growing steadily. I want to be able to serve in communities and among individuals whose voices are not heard. A language barrier can stop people from properly voicing their opinions. I can be the liaison and bridge the gap between different cultures and perspectives. I am also considering volunteering in the Peace Corps after graduation, and the experience abroad would make me a more experienced and competitive candidate.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would highly recommend studying abroad to a Liberal Arts student because it will truly change them as a person and make them better equipped for a diverse workforce. There are only so many things you can understand by reading a book and seeing pictures; studying abroad will allow you to understand another culture because you are a part of it. Also, traveling allowed me to really find out a lot about myself and what my place is in this world. I have come back from my study abroad more mature, independent, and focused.

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