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Student Profiles

Overseas Study Program

Alcala,  Spain

If I could do it over, I would choose a longer program. I was only in Spain for one month, and it went way too fast for me. ”

Sarah Janssen

Major: Speech Language Pathology

Year/term abroad: Summer 2014

Why did you choose this program? I chose this program because of the location and length of time.  I didn't want to go for a full semester and the summer was the best time for me to go.  I really wanted to go to Europe, so Spain was a good place for me to practice my Spanish in an immersive environment.

Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. My favorite class was a Hispanic film studies class.  It focused on the history and politics of Spain through small lectures and classic Spanish films.  I also got to do a partner project where we chose and watched a movie, then did a presentation over the themes and meanings.

What was the housing like on your study abroad program? The Alcala program did host family housing.  I was placed with an older couple whose kids were moved out of the house and lived in an apartment.  They were awesome, funny, and took me dancing or out for tapas almost every night!  My host mom was always feeding me and showing me how to cook Spanish dishes.  I learned a lot from them.

What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory was the weekend my friends and I went to Seville and Granada.  We saw La Alhambra and the Plaza de Sevilla, which were indescribable.  It was fun to take a long trip with some great friends.

What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? The biggest surprise for me was how much everyone ate.  I was constantly eating, but I went on runs to counterbalance the food I was eating.  Everything was so good though.

“If I could do it over, I would…” choose a longer program.  I was only in Spain for one month, and it went way too fast for me.  Of course I missed home, but I wish I had done a semester or the whole summer because I was not ready to leave when I did.

What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? Through my classes, I learned so much about the history of Spain and how their culture is today.  I learned a lot of conversational Spanish and how to listen to the language more effectively.

What was your greatest challenge? My greatest challenge was the language level.  I had to step out of my comfort zone and talk more if I wanted to learn and improve.  It was uncomfortable at first, but I eventually became comfortable with speaking.

What fact about your host country do you think people would be surprised to learn? Alcala de Henares is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quijote.  There are statues and memorials commemorating Cervantes.  It is Alcala's claim to fame.