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Ronda, Spain: Spanish Language and Culture (Summer)
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Taylor Slusser

Liberal Arts Major(s): Spanish
Other Major: Environmental Resource Management
Hometown: Palmyra, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about this through my Spanish 3 professor, Miguel Ramirez Bernal, who is the co-coordinator of the program. I also was able to talk with students about the program at the Liberal Arts Study Abroad information night, and that’s what sealed the deal for me.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

This is a rigorous, nine-credit program built for people to get a much better idea for what Spain is like. I was in a linguistics course, culture course, and a grammar and composition course. I enjoyed my classes quite a bit, simply because I was learning about interesting material and we were being critiqued and encouraged in our Spanish-speaking skills. The host-family model was incredible––my host mom cooked incredible food, and the conversations were great as well (not to mention her two crazy cats). As a group, we visited seven other locations in Spain: Granada, Sevilla, Salamanca, Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, and Cádiz. Those trips provided a bit of a change in scenery––although Ronda is beautiful––and gave us a welcome break from regular class schedules. Overall, the trip was excellent, and I came out of it with a better understanding of the language and culture, and with some new friends.

How did this experience impact you academically?

My Spanish has definitely improved, which opens up opportunities for understanding politics and people both abroad and in the US. I do see a specific use for the linguistics information as well, as I hope to look at translation and the function of language in the Bible. Moreover, outside of the obvious benefits of understanding Spanish comes an increased ability to learn from others––we are, after all, their guests. Thus, we have an incentive to listen to them, and this is a skill necessary for many things in both academia and in life in general.

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

My career goals are fluid, to be quite honest. I intend to study the Bible in grad school (and here at Penn State), potentially become a theologian, Biblical scholar, or pastor. However, I’ve also had a number of doors open up in different directions, which may encourage me to look into politics and/or the environment. I am not sure at the moment. This trip has caused me to consider many of the things I enjoy doing, and I am happy with the path I’ve chosen thus far. Hispanic linguistics has been one of the more interesting courses out of the ones I’ve taken, and has caused me to think more about how linguistics affects Scripture. It would not surprise me if that information made its way into future studies at Penn State and beyond.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Definitely, if you have the time and resources. There are plenty of scholarships out there to help, and if you get the chance, take it. Learning Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country is very preferable, and we certainly learned quite a bit. Moreover, the professors and host families are great. You truly become immersed in the culture and language.

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

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