CIEE: Seville, Spain Summer Language and Culture
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Fatama Ibrahim

Major: Sociology
Minor: Spanish, Arabic
Hometown: Dingmans Ferry, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I first made an appointment with my academic adviser, as well as with an Education Abroad adviser to discuss my options. Upon doing so I was directed to the Education Abroad website where I could look up places I wanted to study abroad as well as see if I qualified for these programs. I knew that I wanted to travel somewhere that wasn't as popular, so I choose one of the smaller Spanish cities to study abroad in.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My study abroad experience can be written into a novel. It was one of the most magical and eye-opening experiences I have ever had in my life. From the moment I landed I could feel the presence of Spanish culture oozing into my body with the sound of Spanish music playing on the plane. My host family did not speak English, which I loved. I had the opportunity to force myself to speak Spanish, which in return has made me a little bit better at speaking Spanish. They were so welcoming and open to helping me out, that it didn't even matter how hard it was for me to speak Spanish with fluidity. The food is to die for. Tapas are a specialty served throughout Spain, but especially in Andalusia, which is the region I was studying in. They are small appetizers that are filled with tons of flavor and texture that I have never tasted before. A staple for Spanish cuisine is olive oil and bread. At every meal I had at my homestay there was bread and a salad drenched in olive oil. The people of Spain are a people of strong family and cultural values.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I was able to finish my minor while studying abroad as well as learn in a completely different way. Our instructor was of course from Spain so his style of teaching was better, in my opinion, only because he understands the Spanish dialect and he knew what slang words to teach us and what not. For so many years I thought Spanish grammar was so hard to understand and fully grasp, but our professor made it manageable and helped us incorporate it into our daily lives. Additionally, not many people spoke English where I was studying so this helped me use what I was learning in the classroom and applying it to the real world.

Studying in a different country can help you understand how important it is to know another language and can and will change your outlook on all aspects of life.

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

Well I had originally planned on attending law school immediately upon graduation, but after studying abroad I realized my true passion is within language and culture. I am looking towards working for the Peace Corps or going back to Spain to teach English. Another thing I noticed while in Spain was that the children are more appreciative of their studies. They don't stress about grades and GPA's, rather they focus on why they love what they're studying and how their knowledge can help make an impact in their lives and community. I had met a Spaniard who was studying Agricultural engineering and he told me that he finds this area of study to be beautiful. His response was completely different from American students studying engineering and that's something unique and admirable about the education system in Spain.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would absolutely recommend studying abroad. Language is something that many employers look for in a candidate. Studying in a different country can help you understand how important it is to know another language and can and will change your outlook on all aspects of life. Even if you can only afford studying abroad for one month, like I did, it will still truly make an impact in your life. I guarantee it.

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