February 2, 2011
Colorado State University student Amber Cuzick discusses studying abroad in Spain to encourage other students to consider the cultural experience.
Studying abroad in Santander, Spain was one of the most difficult, yet best decisions of my life. I've always dreamed of studying abroad even in high school; however, when I was offered the opportunity to do so in college it took me almost a year to take advantage of it.
Why? Because all of my numerous doubts and fears about money, safety, and leaving everything and everyone I knew, created a brick wall that only eight months of research could break down. Researching numerous programs abroad, cities in Spain, aspects of culture, scholarships, etc. helped me to apply for a semester adventure in Spain, and start the most unforgettable time of my life!
I studied abroad during the spring 2009 in Santander. Santander is a city of 200,000 people with beautiful parks and some of the most breath-taking beaches in all of Spain. Although Santander is a smaller city, it has all kinds of entertainment: museums, golf courses, enchanting bookstores, quaint venues, mouth-watering food, lively discotecas, and even an impressive casino.
Not only did I live in such a beautiful area, but thanks to my program I was also offered the chance to go on numerous excursions throughout Spain, to places such as Oviedo, Salamanca, Toledo, Madrid, San Sebastian, Bilbao, and more, snapping photos of every moment along the way, touching the walls of centuries - old churches and cathedrals, posing alongside statues, and eating in parks that I thought only existed in paintings and fairytales. I also had time to do my own traveling, taking a 15 hour bus ride to the captivating city of Seville. I was able to do all of this and still keep up with school, which wasn't very difficult seeing as how I loved my professors and classes.
Even though I went to class from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday (a schedule I thought I left behind in high school), it didn't matter because the learning atmosphere had an entirely different feel. Class were taught in Spanish and consisted of students from all different nationalities - including Russian, Japanese, Italian, and American - all communicating in the one language all of us could understand - Spanish.
My three professors were locals of Santander but they were more like friends than professors. We went on field trips to museums and local festivals, we even got the chance to head downtown in the middle of the plaza and watch a concert put on by children from a local school, two of whom belonged to one of our professors.
One of the most interesting programs offered through the university was the English Immersion Program. Every week a large group of Spaniards from all different areas of Spain would stay at the university to complete an intensive English program. All of the English-speaking students who attended the university to learn Spanish, were given the opportunity to sit at a table of 12 or 15 Spaniards in the cafeteria for lunch and dinner. It was the greatest thing ever! We spoke in Spanish and English, taught each other different aspects of our culture and language, and enjoyed Santander's nightlife after dinner. My roommate from North Carolina even met the love of her life in this program!
Of all my unforgettable experiences in Spain, my favorite was my host family. I lived in a small apartment with my roommate, our 64 year old host parents, and their 36 year old daughter. We really did become a family, playing jokes on each other, throwing birthday parties, and enjoying large lunches with the neighbors. I even got the chance to visit my host mom's hometown where we attended a service at the church she had attended when she was a child, and ate a very large, delicious lunch with some of her relatives.
My host mom loved to help people. One day she took me to the assisted living area where her mom had stayed, and I had the chance to visit with many of the residents and meet all of my host mom's friends who also helped out there (if you’ve ever seen the movie Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood that’s what these ladies were like). I love my host family, they were the best part of my trip and we still keep in contact now, two years later.
Studying abroad in Spain truly changed my life, and I can’t imagine my CSU years without this experience. I would highly encourage all CSU students to study abroad – it will change your life!
If you’re interested in learning more about study abroad opportunities for the summer, fall, or academic year, visit the spring 2011 Study Abroad Fair.
*story written by Amber Cuzick, Senior, Foreign Languages and Literatures
Contact: Angela Perryman
Phone: (970) 491-5917