Valencia, Spain: University of Virginia, Language and Culture
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Elliot Solomon

Majors: Finance & Spanish
Minor: International Business
Hometown: Harrisburg

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I learned about this program from speaking with Smeal College of Business International Programs Coordinator, Elizabeth Labrin, and Associate Teaching Professor, Dr. Peggy Blue.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The University of Virginia in Valencia program is a very challenging, but rewarding program for any student who is looking to strengthen their Spanish language skills. All classes are taught in Spanish, you must talk in Spanish in the study center, and most host families do not know any English. Valencia is a great city that is big enough to have fun, but small enough to build a mental map of the city within a week or two of arriving. There are plenty of long weekends that give you the chance to travel around Europe; I was able to travel to over a dozen different cities. Also, the program has a handful of free and/or inexpensive excursions planned throughout the semester. One of the coolest experiences in Valencia was the Fallas festival that welcomed spring with a bang, or a few thousand, since there are non-stop fireworks throughout the entire week.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Academically speaking, I have one major recommendation: do not go on this program until you have finished all of the 200-level courses. There are some classes that I am taking that I was definitely not prepared for that will have a negative effect on my GPA. However, I have really enjoyed most of the classes I am taking and my Spanish has improved immensely.

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

I would really like to have a career in finance where I can work on Latin American accounts. This is not possible without bilingual-level fluency. Although I am not there yet I have been able to make great strides towards that level and still have two more years before I work full-time. Over the course of the next four semesters I will take five more Spanish classes that will hopefully get me to the professional proficiency level necessary for my career.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes, I would recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students because it has had a major positive impact on my academic and personal life. I have never been extremely confident with my Spanish, but now I am looking forward to holding conversations in my classes at Penn State and with my Spanish-speaking friends. I have made life-long American and Spanish friends while in Valencia. If I could return for another semester, I would do it without a doubt.

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



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