IES Madrid: Language and Area Studies
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Andrew Hanna

Liberal Arts Majors: Economics and Spanish
Hometown: Holland, Pennsylvania

What was the best part of your experience?

I most enjoyed building a relationship with Madrid. The greenery of Retiro park and Casa de Campo, the painting lined halls of the Museo del Prado, Metro interchanges at la Estación de Sol, cafe card games, homestay conversations, and a group of curious, thoughtful, and caring friends made Spain’s capital feel like home. Studying abroad offers an incredible opportunity for travel. Striking a balance between weekends at home and away allowed me to leave and return, and in those instances, recognize how happy and comfortable I had become in this city.

How did this experience impact you academically?

My biggest academic takeaway has been the increased confidence in my Spanish language skills. A homestay, full course load, and internship all done in Spanish have given me the chance to truly practice and immerse myself in the language. While I have taken Spanish classes since middle school, this opportunity truly allowed me to apply my knowledge and grow my skills. Going forward, I know that my speaking, listening, reading, and writing have all improved.

"A homestay, full course load, and internship all done in Spanish have given me the chance to truly practice and immerse myself in the language"

How will this experience impact your career goals?

This experience may not have directly changed my career goals, but it has changed the way that I view my own abilities, approach new challenges, and pursue future employment. By meeting uncertainty with optimism, I was able to convert trials and failures into valuable learning lessons. As a second language learner in a foreign country, there are a million ways to feel unsure, hesitant, and even embarrassed. Becoming comfortable in this discomfort allowed me to be less insecure and to value my efforts and talents. This will go a long way when entering the job market post college.

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

As a liberal arts student and Paterno Fellow, my student experience has always been marked by curiosity and a dedication to learning. My time spent abroad has given me an unparalleled opportunity to employ these aspects of my personality and education. In Madrid and Spain, I was given a new world in which to explore, observe, compare, question, converse and build relationships. In studying abroad, I have been able to experience and take part in a society distinct from my own. In essence, this form of personal and cultural exchange stands so near to the Liberal Arts and the Paterno Fellows Program.

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