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Study Abroad: CIEE, Alicante, Spain - Liberal Arts
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Alison Morrow

Alison Morrow

Majors: Labor and Employment Relations and Spanish
Hometown: Medford Lakes, New Jersey

How did you learn about this opportunity?

Since high school, I always wanted to study for a semester abroad while in college. At first, I wasn't actually sure if I wanted to continue with Spanish after the regular language requirements freshman year but then decided to stick with it. I was in the Division of Undergraduate Studies for my freshman and sophomore years and had no idea what major I wanted to choose, but I knew that Spanish was now something I wanted to have every semester. I declared my Labor and Employment Relations major at the end of my sophomore year and decided to search for a study abroad program. I immediately chose Spain, since it is the mother land of all Spanish, as my destination. I chose my host city by actually ruling out the other options. I didn't want Madrid or Barcelona because they were both too big and Americanized; I wanted to go somewhere where I knew I would be forced to speak only Spanish and not have an English fallback. My two options left were Seville and Alicante, and as soon as I saw pictures of the Alicante right on the Mediterranean, I knew I was going there. I ended up doing the CIEE Liberal Arts program after talking with my Spanish major advisor.

"...this experience has helped me reach a new level of Spanish fluency and has set me on a new career path."

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I participated in the Liberal Arts program in Alicante, Spain which focuses on language acquisition. In this program, all classes are taught in Spanish and students agree to solely speak Spanish with everyone at the study center. This was perfect for me since one of my majors is Spanish. I saw how easy it is to slip back into English with the other study abroad students and had to constantly push myself through embarrassment and confusion to hone my Spanish speaking skills. Living with my host family greatly helped me with this because they spoke next to no English, and I participated in many family activities with them: family outings for the day, parties with the extended family, etc. Through CIEE, we had sponsored trips to go to Granada, Madrid, and a few other smaller towns in Spain. Besides these trips, I planned other outings with my classmates. We went to Valencia, Barcelona, as well as other smaller cities. For spring break I also planned with friends to travel more of Europe. We went to London, Dublin, and Rome. When I wasn't traveling, I was enjoying the beautiful beaches right in Alicante and swimming in the Mediterranean. I had a wonderful mix of learning inside and outside of the classroom.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Most of the courses I took abroad counted towards my Spanish major. One is actually transferring to my Labor and Employment Relations major because it was a gender studies class. As I mentioned before, all of my classes were taught completely in Spanish which pushed me to get to a new level of Spanish language proficiency.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

Right now, my plan is to specialize in Human Resources and possibly be a human resources consultant or a training and management specialist. I am not certain if I will use Spanish in my career, but this experience has helped me reach a new level of Spanish fluency and has set me on a new career path.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes I would, but only if you are actually serious about becoming fluent and only if you realize that you are there to learn and it is still a college semester. If you find the right balance of working in classes, working to speak with your host family, practicing Spanish with your friends, and traveling to learn more about the Spanish culture and other European cultures, then the semester will be so fulfilling for you.

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