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Jennifer Grilli
Kean University

Abroad Location

What made you want to study abroad?

It was the adventure I had been waiting for as a college student. To me, study abroad is what college is all about. It is about exploration, learning, growing, failure, and success. It was the opportunity that I could not miss.


How did you go about trying to decide where you wanted to study??

With all of the options available to me, I would have to say choosing the place to study abroad was one of the most difficult decisions in the process. I was certain that I wanted to study in a Spanish-speaking country, but with 7 countries to choose from and a countless number of cities, that surely did not narrow my options. After researching several cities and countries, I decided on Salamanca because it felt like the ideal match for me. I wanted a small city that was full of culture. In my research I also found that the people from this region of Spain speak the “purest” Spanish. This was the deciding factor for me because my main goal while abroad was to learn as much Spanish as possible.

How did you plan to finance your study abroad trip?

I had planned studying abroad for nearly two years before I actually went. The summer before I left, I worked 3 jobs to finance my trip. I had earned almost enough money, but in the end I was lucky enough to have parents that decided to pay for my study abroad experience. A portion of the money I saved from work went towards my “spending money” while I was abroad.

What is the bets thing you walked away with after studying in Spain?

The best part about studying in Spain was certainly the friends I made while abroad. I would have never had the opportunity to meet such amazing people if I didn't. I still keep in contact with most of them until this very day. I feel that studying abroad has brought me closer to the world and the world closer to me. This means that I have made friends with people from all around the world which has helped me to understand different cultures and vice versa.


Did you run into any difficulties during your experience?

Studying abroad was by far the most challenging experience I have faced as a college student. Living and learning in an unfamiliar place with an unknown language can be frightening. Yet, that thrill is what makes this experience so memorable. I have never felt such a sense of accomplishment until I studied abroad.


What is one of your favorite memories from Spain?

It is difficult to choose my most memorable experience while abroad. Yet, there is one specific moment that I enjoy telling everyone. I was in Spain during the 2008 Euro Cup. The Euro Cup is a soccer tournament that is one of the biggest events in sports in Europe. I was able to celebrate with the Spaniards when Spain had clinched the title. I sincerely felt as if I were a part of their culture. They had embraced me and I had embraced them. Although we were from different places, that day our differences were invisible. Together, we all shared the emotions of joy and excitement.


What classes did you take when you were abroad?

While abroad, I took courses in Spanish to fulfill requirements for my Spanish minor. I studied Spanish grammar, business, culture, conversation, and oral skills.


Did you do any type of volunteer or service learning projects when you abroad? If so what did you do?

No, I did not have the opportunity to do volunteer work while I was abroad. Since I was only there for 9 weeks during the summer, my time was limited.


Did you live with a host family, residence hall or in an off campus apartment?

I lived in a residence hall with one roommate.


Did you find it hard to handle leaving your family and friends for 9 weeks?

The day I left home for Spain was bitter-sweet. Having to leave my friends and family behind was difficult. I commute to school everyday which means I live at home with my parents. I had never been away from home for more than a few days let alone several months. My friends were extremely supportive of me going abroad, but my family had some objections. Initially, my father did not want me to go. I had been warming him up to the idea since I began college in 2006. Eventually, he gave in because he saw how passionate I was about going abroad. I think everyone, including my father, shared in my excitement.


How do you think your study abroad experience can help you later on in life?

I believe that studying abroad has benefited my character as well as my future career. I have become more outgoing, confident and patient since my trip in Europe. Living on your own in a foreign country undoubtedly encourages you to become independent and understanding of mistakes. Academically, I have grown to be secure in my ability to speak and understand Spanish. I believe this will eventually benefit me in a professional setting as an Occupational Therapist.


What do you wish you knew before you went abroad?

The only thing I wish I would have known before I left was that things take time. When I first arrived in Spain, I thought I would automatically pick up the language and fit right in. Yet, I quickly realized that this wasn't true. I became discouraged the first week that I was there. The one thing to remember is that study abroad is similar to other experiences in that it has its ups and downs. However, it is important to minimize the negatives in order to enjoy the positives.


Do you think other students should study abroad, and why?

I recommend study abroad to anyone who will listen. It is an unforgettable experience that will forever remain with you. It is something that can never been understood from the outside. It must be lived because no one experience is the same from the next.


Would you do it again?

Towards the end of my stay in Spain, I remember looking online for another place to study abroad. I loved it so much that I was looking to do it again. Meanwhile, I was not even finished with the first trip! I would certainly go abroad again if given the time and opportunity to do so.

Any last words?        

Take the challenge and go abroad! You can never regret doing it. You will only regret never trying.

Do you want to go to Spain?

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