Program: UMD-Winter: Spain (SPAN/HONR)
Term: Winterterm 2019
Major: Phsiology and Neurobiology
As a Physiology and Neurobiology major with a double minor in Spanish and Statistics, this winter study abroad was an amazing fit into my pre-med course load while enriching my language skills. I have become more comfortable speaking Spanish, and I have new views on the cultural changes and general dynamics. Study Abroad provides new life skills like thinking on your feet, adapting to an unknown environment, and becoming more independent and flexible. It forces you to better your problem-solving skills and generally improves your communication skills. At first, I was unsure if I could take a spanish class abroad and speak spanish sufficiently to survive in Spain or other Spanish-speaking region. However, I was surprised by my own skills, as your language skills will immediately improve when you're constantly surrounded by non-english speakers.
I really bonded with my host family. They spoke no English; I really had to step out of my comfort zone, but it was the perfect opportunity to improve my Spanish. I also became very comfortable with the professors leading the trip and staff at the North American Center in Sevilla.
Advice for future #TerpsAbroad: As a pre-med major, I would highly recommend everyone to try to study abroad! It may seem initially difficult to fit in your time at Maryland, but the winter and summer study abroad programs are the perfect opportunity to explore another country and get a glimpse into a different culture.
One of my most memorable experiences was shopping in the heart of Sevilla. Walking through the streets and negotiating with the street vendors made me feel like a local, and I loved being the official "translator" for my group of friends as we ordered tapas, tried various churros, and visited Las Setas.
There was definitely some cultural shock and slight homesickness, especially when being forced to engage in Spanish at all times. However, it was nice to have other students on the trip to engage with. The professors were also very friendly and supportive, and did their best to smooth out the transition. Once I adjusted to the family and culture after the first couple days, it was a matter of putting myself "out there" and risking language blunders. The more I practiced my Spanish, the better I became!