Articles from February 2024


From language learner to language educator: how study abroad ignited a global career spanning three decades

Three decades ago, Melissa Ferrin (BA political science and Spanish ’95) participated in a study abroad program in Chile offered by the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) as a language learner. She currently teaches English at a small engineering school in Mexico called Universidad Tecnológica de la Mixteca (UTM). Here, she reflects on her international experience and gives valuable advice to students aspiring to enhance their education with global experiences.

Cultures of Spain

When I arrived in Spain, it was like nothing I had experienced before. I thought I had an idea of what I was getting myself into, but I was quickly proven wrong. Never did I think this trip was going to be filled with surprises and memories that will be told and remembered for years to come.
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How four months abroad made me appreciate my disabilities and become a better advocate for myself

I am originally from a small Iowa town of 1,000 people, so I enjoyed every moment I had exploring [Valparaíso] - trying out every cafe (and returning to many of them), visiting each bookstore and library, and carefully cataloging photos of the street art in my phone. My wonderful host mom took me to many birthday parties, bingo days, and girls-night-in dinner parties. Being so graciously accepted into her home and family allowed me to truly experience Chilean culture, an experience I am still so grateful to her for.

Embracing the new and the unfamiliar: reflections from my summer in Spain

In Spain, I was markedly different from most of the people there, and I stuck out. However, I stuck out in Spain not for being Asian-American, but simply for being American. Everyone seemed to know right away that I was American or else just assumed that I was Spanish and spoke to me in Spanish. Some of my favorite moments in Spain were when I was able to have conversations with local storeowners around Spain—including a man at a bakery in Madrid, a woman at a clothing store in Valladolid, and a woman at an art store in Córdoba. I even had a chance to get to know some of the local students, either through the conversation hour, after which we would go to a café on campus and share a heaping plate of fries, or just around campus.