There is no way to capture all that I have learned on this study abroad program, no way to measure the critical thinking skills and expansion of my view of the world and my place in it. I do know that I will be taking these skills with me beyond graduation and implementing them in both my professional and personal life.
. To learn and develop foreign language skills in the culture from where it comes is such a singular opportunity and I loved every minute of it.
As President of the Black Student Alliance & a member of MSU's Homecoming Court, I plan to use these platforms to create more dialogue on Spartans practicing being inclusive. Had I never been stuck with these individuals for three weeks, I would have never known the need for these spaces on our campus. I have much more to say about this experience, but to sum it up, I endured and because of this program, I am a better Spartan and will be able to make a greater impact at MSU.
A few of my favorite memories include watching my padre yell at the TV while we watched a soccer game, looking through family photo albums with my madre, and meeting a few of the grandchildren of my host family. These and many more events made my experience in Santander so special.
Sometimes you miss home, you miss your girlfriend, boyfriend, friends, family, you miss Taco Bell texting on 3G, and a wardrobe that weighs more than 50 lbs. But there is something magical about studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. It is as if time has frozen and allowed you these precious eight weeks to attempt to soak up every ounce of the Spanish culture that you have so craved to be a part of.
If you are a student contemplating studying abroad, I am personally telling you that you should go. Like myself, it was very hard to decide whether the program was worth the expense and I questioned whether I would truly grow from it. From the bottom of my heart this study abroad program changed my life.
You then realize that something as simple as a dinner with your colleagues is more than just dinner, it is an experience you will never forget. An experience that you will only share with those three Spartans.
Valencia was the perfect place to improve my Spanish speaking ability while immersing myself in the culture. This experience was memorable for me because I had the opportunity to live with a wonderful host mother, who didn't speak a word of English.
While we waited for the sun to go down we talked amongst one another and with some locals to learn about some of the traditions of the night. When the sun started to set, everyone lit their fire. There was music, dancing, swimming, and a lot of laughing.
While it is always amazing to represent MSU while performing fun and exciting music with my colleagues and professors, it was absolutely incredible to have an opportunity to perform at the same event as many professional clarinetists on an international level.
Even within Europe we found that there are many different cultures and business and they are all equally important when conducting business. Being from the U.S. and only seeing what was around me forced me to see only one way of doing things and think that it was universal.
From the company visits to global companies such as Lear to the visits to US embassies and presentations from the European Union, my knowledge about the international comparative dimensions of business in Europe is above and beyond what I would have learned in a classroom setting.
Taking Spanish classes on campus is nothing like actually living in a household where no English is spoken. My Spanish speaking abilities improved immensely and, by the end of the program, I was thinking and even dreaming in Spanish.
I was so close to not going on my study abroad because I didn't think it would justify spending the money. After landing back in Detroit and getting off the plane to come home, I can honestly say I would spend 1.5x the amount of money I did if I knew it was going to change me and my view on life so drastically.
For me, as an aspiring professor and clarinet performer, attending and performing at this festival has been an enriching and valuable experience. I was honored to be able to perform with the MSU Clarinet Choir in front of a full house. This was a rare opportunity and I am happy I was able to attend.
Sometimes we all as human beings just need to be put in a new element in order to realize our potential, true personality, and our precise values in this world; and without this program I wouldn't have found one of my best friends, nor would I be as much of a well-rounded and independent person as I see myself after leaving Spain after the 9 weeks.
The pure scholastic aspect of study abroad was the most amazing learning experience I've ever had inside a classroom. Learning became fun, and traveling became addicting. However, more than anything, I am walking away from my time abroad knowing I loved my experience for the people around me. Spartans stick together, and I am so grateful to experience it alongside some of the best students and professors at Michigan State University.
Our professor prefaced our trip with this simple statement; “Barcelona is like a children’s storybook, inviting, captivating and easily navigated by the reader. London is slightly more complex, much like a chapter book, with the tube for public transportation and a faster pace of life. Paris is like a complex intricate novel with history and layers that you have to unfold.”
My favorite club that I participated in was the “fútbol” club, or soccer club. Each Tuesday, the students would meet up and head to the University of Valencia soccer fields and play games of soccer, sometimes against Spanish locals or University of Valencia students. I thought this club was so rewarding because it gave us students the opportunity to hang out with each other in a non-school setting, speak Spanish, and be immersed in the culture and hobbies of what real stude
We talked about global marketing strategies, and in what better places could this be taught than Barcelona, London, and Paris? These studies there makes me want to see what business abroad can offer, so now I am pursuing a minor in international business.
As I walked past I saw they were handing out samples, I had no idea what it was but it smelled like barbeque and reminded me of home so I just HAD to try one. I ate it and it was delicious, a little salty but delicious to say the least. When I asked what it was, the guy explained to me that it was octopus. Disgusted by the thought of eating octopus, I wanted to die!
The professors were committed to teaching us the culture of Spain, and through that, I was able to better my use of the language. I was able to attend performances, see major sites in the cities, and most importantly, use my Spanish on a daily basis.
During my time in Spain I did anything and everything, I lived every moment to the fullest and regret nothing. I saw a real live, actual, legitimate football game; I saw some of the most beautiful and breath-taking cathedrals (including the world famous La Sagrada Familia) in some of the most exquisite and enchanting cities of Spain.
Going to college in Paris is very different compared to school at Michigan State. During our stay we studied at Novancia Business School, which is in downtown Paris.
Having this experience will help me to be a more sympathetic teacher to my students who are experiencing similar adjustments to what I encountered while abroad. I will carry the lessons I learned while I was abroad with me for the rest of my life.
I realize how truly blessed I am to be living in Europe for four months, building incredible and lifelong relationships with people from both the United States and Spain, improving my knowledge of the Spanish language and culture first hand by being fully submerged in it, and achieving both my academic and personal goals by completing my minor in Spanish and having the opportunity to be pushed out of my comfort zone and truly live.
During my time in Spain I witnessed the historical moment when King Juan Carlos I abdicated the throne. When I first heard the announcement I did not think much of it, but I soon realized the importance when I returned home to see my host family surrounding the TV watching the news.
Our final stop was Paris, France where we would spend most of our time and attend Novancia Business School. Getting to know and interact with the France students and faculty was a unique and eye-opening experience.
The gondola was terrifying and I honestly did not even want to get in it, but I am so glad I did because at the top of the mountain was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.
This was a big shocker, and in the case of Pamplona (famous for the Running of the Bulls) it was definitely a smelly experience.
I saw some of the most beautiful and breath-taking cathedrals (including the world famous La Sagrada Familia) in some of the most exquisite and enchanting cities of Spain; however, I think that the experiences that resonated with me the most were my experiences in the classroom.
The studies there made me want to see what business abroad can offer, so now I am pursuing a minor in international business. I canâ
Although we had lecture in a classroom, we carried out multiple group projects which required us to explore various destinations such as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, or street restaurants, and use our observations paired with classroom knowledge to complete our presentation. Being able to use the new cultural knowledge we picked up on made learning the classroom concepts much easier and much more enjoyable.
We worked with students of different academic and scholastic levels and were able to really learn about cultural and societal differences between our American students and the Swedish students.
My experience in Spain was unlike any other. I feel so privileged to have been able to go see and experience a new way of life. I have definitely tried to being back part of the Spanish mentality of slowing down and remembering to enjoy what I have.
Over the course of my study abroad, my Spanish improved quite a bit, but I think the biggest hurdle I overcame was simply overcoming the fear of speaking.
Madrid was the perfect city to study abroad in. The Spanish people that I met were friendly and accommodating. Many of them also spoke English. Madrid is extremely lively at all times of the day
My most prized memories of Spain, however, were most assuredly the conversations. Every meal or cup of coffee was a compare and contrast conversation and self-examination of the traditions, habits, and mores of our own cultures
The progression that I experienced in my Spanish language skills this summer started off initially with fear, and ended up as one of my greatest accomplishments.
While working on daily sketching, as well as transforming information into creative graphics, I really felt in tune with a side of me that I felt had been lost in the day to day stress of traditional learning and working.
The host family experience really made my study abroad so amazing! They were so down to earth!
This weekend was an amazing and exciting experience for me because I got to learn about my heritage but also use my Spanish in a practical situation.
The work of Spanish advertising professionals motivated me to remain dedicated to my education and and reminded me that there are no limits to what one can accomplish.
The most significant aspect of the cultural immersion for me was living with a host family. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that I had with the members of my family every day, particularly those that I had with my Spanish “madre”, as we called her.
For a couple of hours, I didn’t feel like Taylor Schultz, a college student from Michigan State. I had been hoping for this moment, and it finally happened, five weeks into the program, on the night before my flight home.
In my opinion, this was a spectacular project because my group and I were literally thrown in a real-world situation and had to determine how to penetrate a new culture.
While I was abroad I realized that if at all possible, every single student studying planning at Michigan State University should be required to study abroad before graduating.
Our first stop was Barcelona, a city that pictures could never do justice. It was here that our group was approached by a Spartan alum (Class of 1966) who noticed our green and white apparel and had to say hello. That encounter was one of many incredible moments throughout the month.
All day and night long there was sounds of people talking, beer bottles clinking to cheer with one another, the sound of bike bells, food cooking, music playing, soccer balls being kicked around, and traffic.
The study abroad learning experience went beyond the courses. Everyday I woke up to a culture different than my own and it was incredible. With foreign smells deliciously filling my nose, music with soft beats I’ve never heard before, and beautiful old architecture surrounding us, it was hard not to enjoy even walking down the street and people watching.
Here I have been able to develop my communication skills and challenged to figure out how to communicate something when I didn’t know how. Also living in the host families you get a very good sense of the culture of family in Spain.
Having participated in the European Planning and Practice: Urban Redevelopment Study Abroad Program has [...] given me the opportunity to abound myself in new cultural knowledge, share feelings and gain a new outlook of the world from people outside of my own culture and upbringing.
After visiting the European Union Parliament and Commission, my fascination for international business has grown tremendously.
A few things I have taken from this culture are it is good to take things slow and sometimes it is necessary to be finished with work and take time for you.
I learned, grew, and prepared for life in a place where castles are real, views are spectacular, living out of a backpack and having unkempt hair for a weekend makes me feel confident, and meeting someone meant hearing a new accent and story.
Having the opportunity to live in Santander I learned both inside and outside of the classroom. Being able to listen to and practice the Spanish language everyday, navigate and explore the streets, sample the local cuisine, and get to know the people of the town truly made me feel like a native instead of a tourist.
Being surrounded by the Spanish language for two months improved my comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing skills immensely.
Even when I felt that I couldn’t do anything right in the eyes of my host mother, or when I made a mistake by taking a risk in class, I more often than not heard the familiar “no pasa nada” from them, and I moved on with confidence, not afraid to try again.
I had never seen such vibrancy from the doors and windows of each small apartment and townhouse to the hustle and bustle of people running their errands or heading to work.
One of my favorite assignments was our daily journal. We were required to write about all of our experiences from each day and include images, graphics, and illustrations to show what we saw.
It was a magical moment for me because I used to be the one who didn’t know the native tongue fluently. This time, I was able to help someone out with their English and that felt very good. I said “goodbye” (adios) in her first language and she said it back to me in mine.
Not only do you learn about the country and how it is right now, but when we toured various places and monuments, you get to learn about the past. Seeing all of the historic places in Paris allowed me to get an idea of how and why humanity has progressed.
When I arrived at our first location, Barcelona, Spain, I had no idea what to expect from the group I was traveling with or the places I was going. I signed up for the study abroad not knowing anyone and never having traveled to Europe. Our study abroad group of 33 individuals bonded quickly.
It is here that I began to realize that I was learning so much more than just Marketing 300/310. I started to comprehend that I was learning in a new way, and I found a confidence in myself that I had not recognized before.
With the opportunities it presented for us to visit numerous well known corporation’s headquarters and facilities as well as to meet, quite literally, CEO’s and executive teams of these entities, we had access to network with people most students will never meet.
This experience helped me develop myself even further with diversity in education, culture, language and relationships.
We were told that the Center would actually look at our work and consider using our ideas. This caused our group to work harder than any group I have ever been in before. We did research, created our material, and practiced our presentation together in a room at the Novancia Business School in Paris.
I was able to speak with adult native speakers as well as children, both challenging me in unique ways to keep up with hearing, listening and responding.
I tried my best to explore as many parts of Spain as possible to see the varied culture. I was able to see the Picos de Europa, a mountain range that spreads from Cantabria to Asturias to Castilla y Leon, the Mediterranean city of Barcelona, and even the capital of Spain, Madrid.
Not only did I learn a lot inside the classroom, but also the experiences I had outside the classroom stand unparalleled to anything one could learn out of a textbook.
Right away, Arancha (my Spanish mother) and Claudia (my Spanish 12-year-old sister) made me feel at home. During the eight weeks I would spend with them, we would become as close as a real family
Where did I find my solution? The study abroad fair. I strolled through the floors of the Union stopping at each booth and before long my arms were overflowing with pamphlets and free pens. Then I walked up to the Santander table.
So it makes perfect sense that many of my memories revolve around jamόn, and, consequently, the dinner table. But at the meal I remember most fondly, I was not merely eating jamόn, I was talking about it. This was a real source of accomplishment for me, considering I had come to Valencia just a few weeks before with very limited Spanish skills.
Going to class by metro and on foot while embracing the mopeds whizzing around with gusto helped me to realize that despite the many differences between Spanish and American cultures, each person on earth is full of life and moving through the world one blink after another.
What I didn’t know is that I would learn so much more than that from my madre. Sure, watching TV together and helping her cook dinner improved my Spanish tremendously, and that was the point of the program, but it was not the most rewarding part of my time abroad. She helped me to really experience the Spanish culture by giving me advice for my travels, answering my questions and telling stories about her life.
Lear Corporation designed a great day program for us to be able to get a great sense of how their business works – in all aspects! They took us to the lab where their technology is developed. Then, they equipped us with lab coats, glasses and even electrical static protection on our shoes to tour the manufacturing factory where that same technology is then produced.
We not only learned how to navigate a foreign city using the subway and non-English directions, but also got a firsthand experience at partaking in international business. The class structure was perfect for this type of program. We spent some hard working hours in the classroom as well as listening to very intelligent speakers who taught us about their culture and the way they interact in an international setting on a day to day basis.
I learned so much from my study abroad to Santander, but I will never forget how my Art History class helped me develop a strong interest in Spanish art. Even though the class was a little intimidating at first, it truly became one of the best classes I have ever taken!
When I excitedly explained to my mom that my study abroad trip would focus on information graphics and visual communication, she replied, “That’s great; but why is it in Spain?” To tell you the truth, I didn’t have an answer for her. I had no idea what separated Spain from other European countries in terms of design and visual communication.
Studying abroad is a way to gain knowledge, explore the world and explore yourself. It taught me to take a break from the go, go, go of life and just appreciate quietness and stillness every once in a while. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made in my life and I would really encourage anyone who is pondering it to take the plunge and just go.