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IES: Madrid (Summer)
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Erin Baumgartner

Liberal Arts Major(s): Global and International Studies, International Politics
Minor: German, Spanish
Hometown: State College, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

While in Madrid, I took advantage of my central location in Spain and most weekends traveled to nearby cities. While some trips were alongside some close friends I made during the program, the vast majority of the time I explored on my own: walking the cities, visiting museums and historic sites, getting good eats (though mainly cheap eats from bakeries and street vendors!), and simply people watching. I am unbelievably grateful for this time to have been able to explore so much, both in Madrid and other cities.

I have always loved traveling, but this summer showed me how much I value interacting with diverse people and learning about other cultures

How did this experience impact you academically?

While I would say that a large part of my study abroad involved learning outside of the classroom, all of those experiences added to my view of academics, broadening my cultural perspective, and heightened my belief in interacting with and learning from a broad range of students. I have come back to Penn State wanting to further improve my Spanish and with a unique perspective to take into my classes.

How will this experience impact your career goals?

I have always loved traveling, but this summer showed me how much I value interacting with diverse people and learning about other cultures (aside from aspects of traveling that involve seeing new places and trying new kinds of food!). In the future I will value potential career prospects that are internationally-focused, and I have a particular interest in how different countries interact (particularly as the world becomes more globalized) and how to bridge differences between people.

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

Being able to travel on my own and experience another culture in depth was an unbelievable experience since it was longer than a vacation might be. Although I have always loved travel, being part of the Paterno Fellows Program has motivated me to take even greater steps to want to engage in opportunities while at Penn State. My time in Madrid was a wonderful start, and I will in fact be going on yet another study abroad experience. I continually look forward to and am grateful for the community and support that Paterno Fellows offers.

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