Swimmer reflects on study abroad experience

Swimmer reflects on study abroad experience

Lauren Hall, '18, a Spanish and communication studies major from Midland, Mich., wrote a first person account of her experience at the University of Alicante during the fall semester.

My freshman year I was able to go to Spain with my first year seminar class. I fell in love with the culture and immediately knew that I wanted to study abroad in Spain. I also chose Spain because of the availability to travel to many different countries in Europe. I am currently studying abroad in Alicante, Spain, which is on the Mediterranean coast. I am taking all of my classes in Spanish with other exchange students. The campus is very large but my class sizes are very small, which makes it feel like Albion a little bit. I was very surprised to find that everyone is very laid back and very friendly here. The University of Alicante is a beautiful campus and there is a very good foreign exchange program here. The center for languages offers trips and excursions every month for exchange students so you can meet other people from different countries. There are students from Australia, the United States, Europe, and Japan. One thing that has been very cool is that I have made some friends from Japan. They don't know English and I don't know Japanese, so we are only able to communicate in Spanish.

When I first came to Alicante, it was a bit of an adjustment from living with a host mom to taking the bus everyday to class. I was extremely nervous to live with someone who I do not know but it has turned out to be amazing. My host mom is an amazing cook and is very sweet, even giving me a hairdryer to use so I don't go out with wet hair and catch a cold. I am also terrible with directions, and often got very lost getting used to taking public transportation. I usually leave an hour before class to take the bus to campus. I made a lot of mistakes but now I am a pro and it has just become a habit to take the bus.

My Spanish, of course, has improved a lot. When I got here I understood everything fairly well, however, I didn't speak very well. I hardly practiced my Spanish in the United States because I was afraid of making mistakes. Now, I have gained the confidence to speak in Spanish and learn from the mistakes I make while speaking. I am able to speak with a lot more fluidity as well.

I have also been able to travel a lot. My program had trips to Valencia and Granada. I have personally taken trips to Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam, and Dusseldorf, Germany. My parents were able to visit me during Thanksgiving and my host mom made Paella for my family and they got to see where I live. It was very special to be able to show my parents what I have been doing for the past semester. I also practiced a lot of my Spanish being a translator between them.

As I come back, I will be able to finish my Spanish major this spring, which is pretty exciting to be done with one of my majors as communications is also my major. I am also very excited to be a teaching assistant for Spanish 102, which will help me better my Spanish and hopefully I'll be able to help other Spanish students. My semester abroad has been an incredible experience but I am also very excited to come back to Albion to share my experience, and get back in the pool of course and finish out the swim season.

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