Emma Pfister, a double major in international relations and diplomacy and Spanish, lived with a Spanish speaking host family and engaged in the culture of Granada, Spain while on her time with the ISA Granada, Spain spring 2022 program.
The most memorable part of my study abroad experience was living with a host family. I had the opportunity to live with a host mom and sister as well as another American student. My host mom, Maite, made me feel right at home with her incredible Spanish food and outgoing personality. Living with Spaniards really helped me practice my Spanish and grow my confidence in my ability to speak Spanish, especially since Maite doesn't speak English. I loved the little family I created and it was heartbreaking to leave them, but I know I will always have someone to welcome me back to Granada with open arms.
For me, going abroad, especially to a Spanish speaking country, was incredibly important in my Spanish education. I was living in a city that didn't have as many English speakers as cities like Madrid or Barcelona, so it really forced me to get out of my comfort zone and practice. Without the experience of being fully immersed in the language, I don't think I would have progressed as far as I have.
I have learned to become extremely flexible and independent. There is always a chance for something to go wrong while traveling and study abroad has taught me how to think on my toes, especially in countries that may not speak my first language. I learned how to grow from the mistakes I made, whether they may be grammatical errors or booking the wrong bus to the airport. There wasn't a whole lot of time to worry about the mistakes I made; I just had to get up, learn and move on.
Being a global citizen is important in all education. Learning about different cultures and languages allows us to understand the lives of others outside our own community. Before going to Spain, I thought I knew a lot about Spanish culture from the classes I've taken, but nothing could have prepared me for all the knowledge and experience I gained from living in Granada for five months.
I would absolutely encourage other students to go abroad even if it isn't for a full semester. Being abroad taught me how to become more independent while gaining an educational experience. Outside of the classroom, I loved being able to travel to nearby countries which isn't always possible in the U.S.