CIEE: Advanced Liberal Arts Seville
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Kari Peterson

Major: History and Spanish
Hometown: Berwyn, PA
Paterno Fellow

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about this experience while researching study abroad opportunities online using the Penn State Education Abroad program search. I also talked with Spanish study abroad advisors to further choose which program I wanted to participate in.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

So far, my experience has been everything I hoped for and more. I am having an amazing time while also immersing myself in a culture and language I am interested and passionate about, Spanish. I have been given the opportunity to study in a Spanish University, the University of Sevilla, an opportunity that not all study abroad students are offered. My program also gives many options for cultural experiences and visits in our free time which I have taken advantage of. Furthermore, I have been able to travel throughout Spain and around Europe and learn from new cultures and experiences, a goal of mine when deciding to study abroad. Lastly, I have formed many great relationships with the amazing people directing, teaching, and participating in my program.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Studying abroad in Spain has greatly improved my Spanish language skills. Not only am I immersed in a culture where Spanish is the main language spoken, but I also have further immersed myself by studying at a Spanish University. All of my classes are taught in Spanish with the majority of the students being native Spanish speakers. Furthermore, I have had to do readings, research, and write papers in Spanish on advanced topics, often dealing with Spanish history or literature. This experience has been a challenge but my Spanish has improved and continues to improve each day. As a History major as well, I also am taking a few Spanish history classes which has been extremely interesting to me and a topic I had never learned about before.

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

After graduation I hope to volunteer abroad in a Spanish speaking country through the Peace Corps or other program. I would want to either work with children or teach English. Studying abroad in Spain has improved my Spanish skills and is moving me towards fluency. I would be more prepared to move to a Spanish speaking country and volunteer. Furthermore, I am volunteering in the public school system here in Sevilla and working as a cultural and language assistant with Spanish children. This experience will also help prepare me for the type of volunteer work I would like to do after graduation.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes, but only if you are a Spanish major because the program is indeed advanced and requires a higher understanding of Spanish. If I did not have my extensive background in Spanish I would have had a lot more trouble adjusting to being in Sevilla, due to the strong accent, and to my classes taught completely in native Spanish.

Volunteering in Spain has been one of my most memorable and rewarding experiences that I have taken part in so far during my time studying abroad.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

The Paterno Fellows Program has required me to participate in volunteer work for a certain number of hours, pushing me to volunteer as a Spanish and literacy tutor for children in the State College School District. This experience inspired me to continue this type of volunteer work in Spain with Spanish children. Volunteering in Spain has been one of my most memorable and rewarding experiences that I have taken part in so far during my time studying abroad. Not only have I been able to help students with their English, but I also have learned a lot about the Spanish culture as the students love telling me about Sevilla and what they do in school and in their spare time.

For more information on global experiences for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.


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