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University of Massachusetts

Seville, Spain

Spring 2020

Erin Diacik, Alumni Ambassador

Alumni Ambassadors
1. What was your favorite course abroad?
My favorite course I took abroad was Cultural Values and Stereotypes: Spain and the U.S. This course was taught by my Academic Director, Mary Alice Soriero, at our CEA center in Sevilla. We learned about cultural values of the U.S. and Spain, as well as gaining valuable intercultural communication skills. It was so meaningful to compare the differences in the culture that is comfortable to me, and the culture that is brand new and shocking to me. Learning about these differences made a huge impact on reflecting about my experiences abroad. When I travelled, I found myself using what I learned in class to guide my behavior and observations I made about countries. My favorite part of the course was actually our final exam project, which we completed remotely at home. We were introduced to the capstone project on the first day of class, where we would create a video filled with our memorable experiences and lessons learned abroad. I met some lifelong friends in this class, and at the end of the semester, it was so meaningful and emotional to watch videos of my friends and classmate’s growth and deep understanding of Spanish culture, all while honoring our beautiful city.

2. How has your study abroad experience shaped you?
Despite going abroad in the midst of one of the most challenging times our nation has ever experienced, I learned so many valuable lessons that I can apply to my future. I made the decision to study abroad solo, meaning I did not travel with any friends or anyone I knew. I also made the decision to travel somewhere where I had never learned a day of the language. This became a huge factor in shaping me today. I learned that I should never be scared about new opportunities, because I will have or find the support I need to make it successful. Although my experience was cut short, my time abroad in Spain gave me confidence that I will able to carry for the rest of my life. In January, I knew a handful of Spanish phrases. But in March, I was able to confidently engage in real conversations with my host dad. Studying in a place where English was rarely heard was overwhelming and scary at times, but one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had. Studying abroad taught me to make the most out of every moment, because you never know when it could be taken away from you.

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