Nadia Gutierrez, BA '19, studied abroad during the summer of 2017 in Alicante, Spain. As a first generation student, Nadia has "have felt that it is hard sometimes to reach my full potential, but this study abroad program has impacted who I am as a person because I now have greater goals and ambitions and want to return to Spain to be a teacher there!" Read more below...
Describe a time in which you were immersed in your host culture. What was challenging or exciting about this?
I was most immersed in my host culture when I would spend the afternoons with my host family. They really did feel like a second family and would always try to teach me new Spanish words and talk about their culture, while also talking about ourselves. It was challenging because the language was completely different from my Spanish language since I am Mexican. A lot of the words didn’t mean the same thing and that was so amazing to me because I could further understand the complexity of the Spanish language. It really is so different in each Spanish-speaking country. It was also exciting to fully embrace another culture, which is way out of my comfort zone, but I tried to always learn something new each day!
What do you miss most about your study abroad program or location?
What I miss most about my study abroad program was my daily routine and the easy-going lifestyle of Spain. Here in the U.S., my life is so busy, stressed, and rushed; whereas my life in Spain was very calm and relaxing. The food and friends were amazing too. Also, being five minutes away from the ocean was breathtaking! If it wasn’t for my memories, pictures, and journal entries, I would think it was just a dream.
How does study abroad still have an impact on your life today?
I am still in touch with all of the amazing friends that I was able to meet through the program. While in Spain, I didn’t just stay with my study abroad cohort; I met other students from other parts of the world, like Russia and Italy, and feel that type of friendship can’t be compared to any other friendships that I have. Those friends will stay in my heart forever. Also, I feel it really helped me to realize that I actually can travel. I am a first generation student and the first to try so many new things in my family because I have had the opportunity to do so. I have felt that it is hard sometimes to reach my full potential, but this study abroad program has impacted who I am as a person because I now have greater goals and ambitions and want to return to Spain to be a teacher there!
Describe the food!
I remember at one of the dinners with my host family I ended up trying pig brain. That was definitely the weirdest food I ever tried. It has a texture similar to scrambled eggs and it actually didn't tast that bad. My host farmily was always amused at how excited I would get about the food. I would say "WOW!", which isn't a common word there, but it stuck with them so now they say "wow" too.
As a heritage seeking student, how did your personal identity sync or clash with your host identity?
Since I am a native Spanish speaker of Mexican descent, I definitely saw a lot of similarites but, as previously stated, some words meant the exact opposite of what I had known my whole life. Seeing the differences was really amazing and amusing at times because a word that would be common for me wouldn’t make sense in Spain and vise versa. I didn’t find anything that clashed other than the routine of life, which I actually loved. Now in my life I try to not be so stressed and enjoy every little moment that I can.
How will study abroad help you in your future career?
Study abroad will definitely hep me in my future career because it led me to realize that I want to be a teacher in another country. As of right now, Spain is my number one choice of where I want to be an English teacher.