It was truly a weird, different and complex feeling I had when I booked my flight to Spain the other day, but nonetheless very exciting. During the spring semester of 2012, I will be traveling to Alicante, Spain to study at the University of Alicante. Alicante is a Mediterranean port city in the southeastern part of Spain, which has a sunny climate, beautiful beaches, tall mountains and rich culture and nightlife. I plan on swimming, surfing, sailing and enjoying the four-mile-long beach of San Juan, which is considered one of the finest in all of Spain.
Taking this opportunity to study overseas will definitely help me broaden my horizons. I anticipate meeting many new people and creating relationships that will last for a long time. I also want to explore a language and culture that I have been studying since middle school. You can only learn so much by practicing speaking and reading about cultural activities. Being able to put all these things into an actual experience will be second to none. Going abroad also will challenge me to travel on a budget and be able to effectively live on my own. I hope to become even more independent as my spring semester progresses in Spain.
Deciding to apply to this program directly reflects and relates to my academic program at Mount Union. I am pursuing majors in business management and Spanish and a minor in environmental science. Almost all of the classes I will be taking in Alicante will transfer to Mount Union and be credited towards my Spanish major. I also hope to take some cultural emersion courses that may be able to cover some of my general education requirements.
The application process was quite a long one, and I am still working on getting all my materials in. Since this can get very stressful I provided 5 essential tips for helping you study abroad.
1. Choose a program that offers what you want. Mount Union partners with USAC, which has many great things to offer, however there are other programs as well. Things to keep in mind are homestays, excursions, field studies, job opportunities, costs and if credits can transfer!
2. Read through everything! It is important to read over all the documents that are sent to you from cover to cover. You don’t want to miss important information and any materials that should have been submitted. Also, make sure your passport is up to date. Mine was not and this really complicated the process!
3. Create lists and be organized. It is very easy to get lost in all the documents you need to turn in. Create a checklist, and make sure you are up to speed with forms and deadlines.
4. Patience is a virtue. Once you apply for the study abroad program, you have to see if you get in. Once you apply for visas and a passport if you don’t already have one, you have to wait. Be aware that all the paperwork for studying abroad takes time, but should all work out in the end.
5. Be open to change. I cannot wait to experience something new, but in an entirely different culture. Take risks, do the unordinary, discover new things.
Here is some other food for thought I would like to share. I don’t worry so much about the destination, I prefer to enjoy the journey and see what we discover together along the way. Also, I figure you can either lead a path of mediocrity and let life decide your path or you can open yourself up to the world and see what happens. I feel that those who take the risk get more out of life. Man, I can’t wait to start exploring Spain, but also to explore the inner country of my own soul.