How studying abroad has changed your life

How does studying abroad change a person?

By Stephanie Gamba, Dylan Kramer, Selena Moore | Thursday, 25 August 2016

Alumni from Centro Mundolengua programs talk about their academic, personal, professional and intercultural development as a result of studying abroad.

Stephanie Gamba, Christopher Newport University:

“When I started college, I hadn’t given much thought to studying abroad.  I used to think I would just travel on my own time after I graduated but I am so glad that didn’t wait to travel!  My study abroad office and my Spanish professors were the ones who really encouraged students to go outside of their comfort zone and take classes in another country.  So I took the leap and studied abroad twice while I was a college student.  It changed my life in so many ways!  My first trip was to Cádiz, Spain, for a summer session and I had such an amazing time that I had to go back and studied abroad again for a full semester in Sevilla.  It opened my eyes to new adventures and not being afraid to take risks – like flying across the Atlantic Ocean by myself or practicing my Spanish wherever I went, even if my grammar wasn’t all that great.  I think by studying abroad I was able to gain new perspectives on class concepts that I could share in discussion or conversation back at my home college.  I made amazing relationships with my host families and local friends in Spain who I always look forward to catching up with.  I learned how to cook traditional Spanish dishes which I could bring back with me to the states and attempt to prepare meals back home.  I have a huge appreciation for the Spanish culture and way of life and I love sharing stories with my family and friends about traveling and class and just buying a really, really great cup of café con leche!
After graduating in 2015, I worked for a year as a University Fellow in Christopher Newport University’s Office of Admission.  My job was really to talk about CNU and I always said how much study abroad played a role in my college experience.  I was able to speak with prospective students and their families about the classes I took, the relationships I still maintain, and the Centro MundoLengua program that felt like an extended CNU family.  I have felt more confident in my Spanish speaking abilities and communicating effectively while living abroad.  I am extremely excited for my next professional step in life as I am moving back to Spain in September!!  I will be an English teacher in the La Rioja region of Spain and I never would have imagined living there if I hadn’t studied abroad just a few years ago!”

Dylan Kramer, Christopher Newport University:

“Looking back, my semesters in Sevilla, my summer in Cádiz, and the constant jetsetting around Europe and parts of Africa were not only the most exciting experiences of my university experience, but also the most formative. Being forced to communicate in a foreign language and living in a foreign culture made me think critically. I realized that many times my way of forming something as simple as a sentence in Spanish was not the best way, which later made me challenge my other enculturated mannerisms. In Spain I started to see everything from language, life philosophies, and personal interactions from both my “American” way and my new found “Spanish” way. When I left I was able to carry these experiences along with me and left a little of myself in Spain.
Personally and professionally I gained confidence and learned to take calculated risks. Whether it was deciding to travel to new, exotic places or challenging myself to take classes with the Spaniards, I realized that many times we miss out on opportunities because we simply do not take them due to the fear of failure. Each misstep in Spain took me further down the path on which I had embarked. As my adventure progressed, there were less and less of said missteps. Upon returning to the United States for my Senior year of college I decided to apply for my dream job, which statistically I had little chance of receiving. Currently, I work in that exact job; Had I not studied in Spain, I doubt the story would be the same.
I made friends from all over the world. I have visited friends I made in remote Drake Bay, Costa Rica; Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and a nameless amount of other destinations.  Studying abroad was a great experience that was integral in defining who I am today and the best part is that it opened up many more opportunities to get more stamps in my passport, even after my time in Spain was over.”

 Selena Moore, Christopher Newport University:

“For as long as I can remember, studying abroad has been something I’ve wanted to do. Before I started college I would think about studying abroad as if it were a requirement of the college experience. I still remember walking in my campus’ Study Abroad Office in the first few weeks of my freshman year and talking to the lady at the front desk about possible programs. It didn’t take long for her to find the perfect program for me. In fact, I ended up choosing the first program she told me about that day. After a long wait and a lot of preparation, I was finally chasing my dream of studying abroad. On January 20, 2015 I left home to study abroad in Sevilla, Spain for four months with a program called Centro Mundolengua. I knew studying abroad would benefit me in both my academics and personal life, but I had no idea just how much it would mean to me. I learned so much about Spanish culture and history from the four classes I took, but the real learning took place outside of the classroom. From eating dinner every night with my host mom to getting guided tours of Sevilla, Morocco and Barcelona, every adventure I had and every person I came into contact with helped to make my experience one I know I’ll continue to talk about with amazement for the rest of my life. Not only was I able to improve on my Spanish language and knowledge, but I was able to gain confidence in myself and learn valuable life lessons I continue to use since returning from Spain. Each city and country I visited now holds a special place in my heart, but the Centro Mundolengua team holds the most special place, for allowing me to have the best experience I could have imagined. I always say that I only had one bad day while I was in Spain – the day I left because it was so hard for me to leave the city and people I had come to hold so dearly. However, I know I’ll see them again because it was not a goodbye, just a ‘see you later’.” Selena Moore, Christopher Newport University

Have you studied abroad? Did studying abroad have a big impact on you?


Leave a Reply