Study Abroad IES Granada, Spain
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Alyssa Wyvratt

Majors: Sociology and Psychology
Minor: Spanish
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

How did you learn about these opportunities?

I researched different locations and eventually decided upon the IES program in Granada which I found on the Penn State education abroad website.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

Granada was the perfect city to study abroad in. It is middle sized with a decent amount happening, but lacks the big-city chaos and clutter. IES encouraged us to embrace the culture, attending Flamenco shows, cooking classes, and engaging with language exchange partners. In southern Spain the majority of the people don’t speak English, and to this I owe much of my Spanish language improvement. I had to adapt to the culture in order to do simple things, like order food or go shopping. In addition, the best decision of this process was to live with a host family. My host mother is one of the most wonderful women I have met, and I give her most of the credit for my Spanish progress. 

The best study trip of my semester abroad was to Morocco. The experience was like no other because the trip was designed to immerse us in the culture rather than as American tourists. The trip allowed us the opportunity to have a glimpse into the Muslim world, which most of us had little knowledge of beforehand. I can positively say that the trip was one of the most enlightening and meaningful experiences of my life.

“This experience has given me the passion to continue to learn Spanish.”

How did this experience impact you academically?

Throughout my semester abroad I learned more about Spain and Islam than I could have imagined. Southern Spain holds a unique history and it can be seen today in the architecture, food, and language. This experience also broadened my knowledge of interesting topics like Islam and women’s rights that I had previously learned about.

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

I intend to go to graduate school for counseling psychology after graduation. In my profession I will deal with patients of Hispanic descent. I hope to continue to perfect my Spanish so that I can better connect with a wider span of students and allow them to feel comfortable talking to me about their concerns. The increase in my Spanish proficiency during my study away in Granada makes me hopeful that someday I can become fluent and exercise this skill in my profession. 

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