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ISEP Student Stories: Ana’s Worldly Classroom

June 30, 2016

A journalism and Spanish double-major from New Mexico State University, Ana N reflects on what she learned when she studied abroad in Spain at Universidad de Vigo. Was the world really truly actually her classroom? Ana says… yes! Read on to learn more:

One thing I have learned after studying abroad with ISEP is that the world is the best classroom a student can have. The best experience of my college career showed me that the world is there for me to become my own personal teacher and search engine, and to open my eyes and mind to the unknown.

My first day on Spanish soil I learned that fear can become your worst enemy and as much as you try to avoid it, it can cancel out even your best qualities. I remember watching my luggage move as if a wild animal was trying to escape from the inside of it while my hand shook non-stop out of fear as I was holding it. My mouth would barely mumble regardless of my bilingual skills, but I had to overcome and decide that culture shock was no longer an option.

That’s when I raised my hand to ask for a cab and the real adventure began.

We made it! Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the end of el Camino de Santiago
We made it! Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the end of el Camino de Santiago

That was my first lesson of many to come. Every day was a constant assignment, a puzzle, a life learning experience, and a new opportunity to live like the locals. This last one practically taught me that there are good people all over the world: kind people who are willing to show you their way of living, and who would take you in and make you feel welcome regardless of your nationality. What fascinated me even more was that they were also so eager to know about me and why I dressed, acted ,and spoke the way I did.

Of course, while meeting people, taking courses in a different language, going on field trips. and doing all these things that had me amazed, I couldn’t help but think of home. Yes, I was homesick — but I was not alone. Many of the other students felt the same way, and quickly I knew it was a totally normal thing to experience. However, this led me to discover one of the most important parts of my trip: I had a new family.

Perhaps as time passed I saw myself hanging out more and more with a certain group of girls. We would go for walks, 1 Euro ice cream treats, excursions, grocery shopping and do many other activities together. We would rely on each other and had a friend there at all times to talk to. During those times, I learned that I had a family and sisters in other parts of the world that I now stay in touch with and hold dear to my heart.

Together we learned that there are many ways to get lost, that with a budget there’s always a McDonalds nearby, that sign language never fails even if you make a fool of yourself, and that there’s never the perfect souvenir, because they’re all adorable! And most importantly that there will be many opportunities to travel the world, but just a few to travel as a student where the world is your classroom.

Thanks Ana! Let the world be your classroom at Universidad de Vigo — study there for a semester or a year! Feel like you don’t have enough time? Teach English while you learn Spanish at Universidad de Vigo this summer.

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