To the Salve students questioning study abroad

To the Salve students questioning study abroad,

It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago, I was in your position. As a Spanish language major, a semester abroad had been a dream of mine for the longest time. I have always been inspired by travel, the Spanish language and just knowing that there are other life paths outside of my own worth exploring.

“There really are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”

Deciding and planning to study abroad is a big process that requires a lot of focus, determination and belief in yourself, which initially, you may not have just yet.

Last fall, when I began planning my semester abroad, I had no idea it would come up so quickly. It’s definitely easy to find yourself so caught up in the planning process that you forget what a semester abroad really means. A semester ABROAD, away from Salve, away from everything familiar and “normal.”

I can honestly tell you that choosing to study abroad will be one of  the best decisions you make during your college experience, but that’s not to say I never questioned whether or not I could handle leaving behind a place where I truly feel at home and love so much. My biggest concern about study abroad was losing touch with life at Salve.

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain to you exactly what I have gone through in regards to missing life at Salve from Spain. Here we go!

Even as a sophomore, I consider myself to be pretty involved back at Salve. I am treasurer of Stagefright, our theatre club, and was a part of the executive board involved in planning Salve’s Dance Marathon event. I have a work study job and even began tutoring for ACE last semester. I’m also involved with SRU Dance and perform in the semester shows. Not to mention that I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve ever had at Salve. I have had such a positive experience at Salve and when I truly realized that studying abroad meant leaving all that behind, I was so torn.

“The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot.”

You will have so many new opportunities abroad that you will come to treasure just as much as your life at Salve. The university, the new friends, the new local places, the travel adventures, the food, the atmosphere and the freedom. By studying abroad you will truly impress yourself by being able to thrive in a new environment. And of course, you will be back to Salve. Study abroad is not forever, and it actually goes by so fast. While abroad if you take advantage of every opportunity possible to immerse yourself in your new country, time will fly. I will be back in the US in just about 7 weeks and here I am wishing I had more time. I’m getting ready to register for my next semester at Salve thinking “do I really have to go back already?”

I am just over two months into my study abroad semester in Salamanca, Spain, and not only am I having an amazing experience here, but I have been able to keep in touch with my friends and clubs back at Salve. Because of FaceTime and Skype, I have been able to see all of StageFright’s shows live, participate in eboard meetings, talk with professors and teachers, and of course my friends and family. I will tell you this, you do need to make an extra effort to stay in touch, but I am so happy that I did. I still feel like an active member of StageFright from across the Atlantic! When I talk with my friends, I always make sure to ask them about their life back at Salve too. They always tell me “nothing is really going on” or “it’s super boring, we want to hear what you’re doing!” And to that I tell them how I genuinely want to hear all about the routine back at Salve because it helps me put my experience into perspective. I could be eating ramen noodles in the common room right now or eating paella on the streets of Spain – which would you rather?

 

You will come to realize that life at Salve is very routine and predictable. Your friends will be sure to keep you updated on the happenings of chicken nugget Friday and that snow day. And while you may miss a spring concert or cool elective class, please don’t lose sight of the fact that there will be other experiences abroad for you! Whether it’s right in your host city, traveling within your host county, or to new countries. There is so much out there to see that is always, always worth it. You aren’t trading up a semester at Salve for nothing, you are trading it for a once in a lifetime experience. Of course Salve is an amazing place, but when you take a moment to step outside the Newport bubble, you’ll realize just how amazing the rest of the world can be. This experience will also help prepare you for life after Salve, because we all can’t live in the Newport bubble forever.

Studying abroad may not only help you practice your foreign language skills, but it also helps you understand the importance of communication between different cultures. By interacting with locals, like your host family or classmates, your ability to understand and appreciate foreign cultures increases dramatically. Studying abroad will also allow you to do things you would never have the chance to do at home. For me, that was language immersion.

Before leaving, I was very open with my friends, club members and everyone about how hard it would be to leave them. I received an overwhelming amount of support and encouragement from them, and they were so right.
I’m not saying it is easy, it can be scary at times to throw yourself into the unknown, but I will promise it is so worth it. I was convinced that a semester would be quite a long time to be away from Salve, and it honestly flies by. No matter how much you think it’s going to be too long, it’s quicker than you think.
I do hope you choose to take a chance with study abroad. You just might surprise yourself.
Sincerely,
Jenn
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