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Anna Hernandez French
Williams College

Abroad Location

How long did you spend abroad?

9 months or two academic semesters.

Why did you decide to study abroad?

For two main reasons.  1) I wanted to become fluent in Spanish and I felt that I had advanced as far as I could without long-term exposure to a Spanish-speaking environment.  And 2) I wanted an adventure, to spend time in a new place with new people surround by a new and different cultural setting.

Why did you choose to study abroad in Spain? 

I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking  country and, since I had never left the U.S. before and had no traveling experience, I felt most comfortable with the idea of spending so much time in Spain.  Also I was able to visit several other countries easily.  I chose Granada because I didn’t want to be in a large city but instead wanted to immerse myself in a very traditionally Spanish setting, and I had been told Granada was exactly that kind of city.

Was it easy to use financial aid? What type of aid did you use? 

I used Williams’ financial aid, and it was extremely easy.  I just presented them with a budget and almost all of it was improved.  And I ended up with no financial stresses while abroad. 

What was the best part of studying abroad? 

It’s difficult to choose just one thing, but I would say that I really enjoyed having the chance to spend a long period of time living in another culture; to really get to know individual Spaniards, to live with a family and experience day-to-day life much as a Spaniard would.  And it was always an adventure.

Was studying abroad a challenging experience? Why? 

It was difficult to be away from the familiar for so long.  I didn’t go home at any point during the 9 months so I did feel very overwhelmed at times.  But there was always something new to see or do.

What was your most memorable experience abroad? 

The trip the program took to Morocco was pretty amazing.  We spent two nights with a family in Rabat and it was really interesting to talk to the family and learn about their culture and lifestyle from the inside.

What classes did you take when you were abroad? 

A whole bunch. I took Lorca and the Andalucian Literary Tradition; The Spanish Experience of the Other; Advanced Language and Grammar; Islamic Art and Architecture; Contemporary Spanish Theater; Women in Mediterranean Film; Islamic Civilization; and Flamenco.  At the University of Granada I took Children’s Literature; and Judaism and Christianity.

Was it difficult to leave your family and friends? Were they supportive of you going abroad?

Everyone was very supportive of my decision to go abroad.  Sometimes they were even more excited than I was about it.  It was difficult to leave, but totally worth it.

How has studying abroad benefited you, personally, academically and professionally? 

Studying abroad worked wonders on my self-confidence.  This has benefited all aspects of my life.  I have also grown more independent and feel more competent.  My Spanish improved even more than I had imagined it would.  And after a year-long break from Williams-level academics, I was ready for my senior year to begin

What is one thing you wish you would have known about studying abroad before you left? 

I wish I had known more about Spain, but that wasn’t really a big problem.

Any additional comments about your study abroad experience?

I had a wonderful time, and going with a Program was definitely the right choice for me.  IES took care of a lot of the things that would have been very stressful for me to navigate myself, allowing me to make full use of my time abroad.  At the same time I didn’t feel smothered.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.   

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