Barbara H. Padnos International Center
130 Lake Ontario Hall
Q: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of your study abroad experience?
A: "Absolutely amazing, I want to go back!" This was the best decision I have ever made and I couldn't be happier with my decision to study abroad. I miss my city, host family and friends I made every day.
Q: Why did you choose this destination?
A: I knew I wanted to study abroad in Spain for a couple reasons, my Spanish major and its proximity to other countries to be able to travel easily on the weekend. I researched a lot of programs and cities and I chose Salamanca through International Studies Aborad (ISA) because of the total package. It was a good price for the amount of excursions it included (at 4 star hotels!) and they really took care of their students. Also, they had a program for superior Spanish students to study with Spaniards in the actual University. In most programs students will be taking classes with other international students, which is still beneficial but I learned so much more about the culture and pushed my speaking abilities to the max by taking classes with Spaniards. Salamanca is also a great place to learn Spanish because most shop owners and host families do not speak English so you are forced to use it more. Bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona you will find that most people speak English and want to practice their own speaking abilities.
Q: What are some things that surprised you about the campus, the classes, the culture, customs or traditions?
A: Eating lunch at 2pm and dinner at 9pm was a huge adjustment, but after my year abroad I learned I liked it better! Spaniards are very family oriented which is awesome, but they are hard to get to know in classes. Many do not speak English fluently so they always want to practice with foreigners. The architecture in every city is unique and beautiful. That was was my favorite part of Spain. La Universidad de Salamance was founded in 1218! The class structure surprised me, they didn't use textbooks or projectors, most of the time it was the professor lecturing and everyone had to take notes as fast as they could. Spaniards also don't use notebook lined paper, instead most use graphing paper to take notes!
Q: What are some things you would like students to know about studying abroad in this destination or the program provider you studied with?
A: Salamanca is the most beautiful city in regards to its buildings. Their "Plaza Mayor" is amazing and you will not find another one that can compare to it. My program, ISA, was more than I could have ever asked for. I didn't expect them to be so dedicated to my well-being and my overall experience. They helped me with whatever I needed, setting up intercambios to practice my Spanish, tutoring me in classes I struggled with, helping fix my travel mistakes, guiding me with whatever I needed, and just always being available to help. Salamanca was a great city for me because it was small enough to get to know the entire city, but big enough that there was always something to do or explore. It was also a good location to be able to travel outside Spain. All we had to do was take a 2hr train/bus to Madrid and catch a flight.
Q: What advice would you offer?
A: Stay for longer than you think you want to. Staying an academic year was the best decision I made. Everyone that stays a summer wishes they could stay a semester, everyone that stays a semester wishes they did a year, and everyone who stays a year doesn't want to leave! My best advice is to push yourself to be open to the culture, traditions, food and immerse yourself into the lifestly as best as you can. It is defintely scary and awkward at times, but you learn the most this way.
Q: What was your academic goal while studying abroad?
A: My goal was to be completely fluent when I left Spain. I wanted to take classes within the actual University, not just with international and American students. I definitely reached my goal, by the time I left I could fluently carry on an intelligent conversation with anyone in Spanish. I didn't have to keep asking "mande?" or "como?" because I understood everything they said and could pick up contextual clues.
A: The first thing to come to my mind is "BEST DECISION EVER!"
A: I chose to go to Granada after researching a bunch of programs, but I was able to cement my decision on a destination after talking with professors in the Spanish department as well as the PIC's staff.
A: The main difference that surprised me about schooling in Spain was the relaxed mindset that the professors had. All of my professors were friendly, helpful, and understanding of every situation.
A: Granada is a great city for study abroad. It is a small city full of history and activities to do. Free tapas was a great perk as well!
A: I would advise everyone to utilize all of the resources that are offered by GVSU (the Padnos International Center, First-step meetings, Financial Aid, etc.)
Also, don't make excuses to avoid studying abroad because it is the best decision I've made in college.
A: My goal was to improve my confidence with Spanish and also gain a better world perspective by traveling to another country. Both of my goals were exceeded.
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