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Illinois State University

Granada, Spain

Spring 2020

Amanda Hall, Alumni Ambassador

Alumni Ambassadors
1. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
I firmly believe that my study abroad experience has shaped me both personally and professionally in more ways than I can even understand right now. The first being it has made me okay with being uncomfortable. Studying abroad is the ultimate test of seeking discomfort: living with strangers, not knowing anyone, speaking a different language, however from this experience I have found that so much growth and amazing opportunities occur when we step outside of our comfort zone, and now I find myself searching for ways to seek discomfort in my everyday life. While I was in Granada, I volunteered in a bilingual school which gave me professional experience in global education and allowed me to further explore the ways in which I can incorporate my two majors--Spanish and special education-- into my future career. My life was enriched with new friendships, a newfound family in my host family, and most importantly a new home in Granada. All of these things are benefits that I immediately have felt I gained from studying abroad, yet I know that there are many additional ways in which this experience has and will continue to shape me for the rest of my life.

2. What were ways you found to experience the local culture?
One of my favorite components of studying abroad was the culture immersion. I lived in a home-stay while in Granada and found this to be one of the best aspects of my time there: whether it be using the local language with my host mother who did not speak English, eating tortilla de patatas, or participating in the midday siesta, I could not think of a better way to be immersed in the culture than living with locals. I also sought cultural experiences outside of the home as well and found no shortage of opportunities! I met locals by attending language exchanges, visiting my favorite cafe, or going for tapas. I celebrated local holidays such as Carnival and Día de Andalucia. I visited world heritage sites such as La Alhambra, La Sagrada Familia, and the Mezquita de Córdoba. Each of these unique experiences exposed me to a culture and way of life that was completely different from my own, giving me a newfound appreciation not only for my own culture, but of the beautiful traditions and people of another. Being immersed in a different culture was an experience like no other, and one that I urge all people to have.

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