Alexandra Cancro - 2012 Program Participant

Alexandra Cancro is originally from Taos, New Mexico. She currently lives in Seattle, WA, where she graduated from Seattle University in 2014. Alex studied abroad in Spain for five months in 2012, and then continued on to Mexico for six months to further her Spanish language skills. Her experiences abroad have expanded her knowledge of foreign cultures and inspired her to continue traveling and learning other languages.

A Sevilla Sunset.
A Sevilla Sunset.

What made you choose ISA’s program?

The reason I choose ISA was because of the committed attention that they give to each student. From information about the program to following up after I was back in the United States, ISA was there to answer my questions and help me through the tough processes involved with study abroad. They helped me obtain a visa and with my plans from the time I left till the time I returned.

During my study abroad experience I felt taken care of and secure. I also felt that ISA helped maximize my immersion into another culture while allowing me enough free time to experience Sevilla on my own. It was an amazing program filled with many teachers and advisors that I will continue to keep in contact with.

What advice would you give other students about to embark on a study abroad program?

For other students studying abroad I would highly recommend staying with a host family. Living with a family who is from the area gives you a different perspective that you will benefit from. They are knowledgeable about the culture and language, and experts on the attractions and festivals that take place year-round. Not only are you able to intimately learn about the culture that surrounds you, but you have someone to converse with and to answer your questions. With this, you are pushed out of your comfort zone, which allows your to expand your horizons and gain confidence.

There are many popular study abroad destinations in Spain, what made Sevilla a great place to study abroad?

Sevilla is a city located in Andalusia, in the southern part of Spain. The authenticity and tradition of the culture is prevalent in their everyday life, and is known throughout the country. I wanted to be in a city where the history was apart of their daily lives. The flamenco dancing, the traditional food, the bullfighting, and Fería, a weeklong celebration, were all factors that enhanced and exceeded the expectations I had when arriving. These traditions have remained timeless for centuries.

To add to the timeless feel, the town was inhabited by locals and during my time in Sevilla, I met very few who were foreigners. Unlike studying abroad in a city like Barcelona or New York, I felt I received an authentic cultural experience that was unique to the Sevillanos.

Which course was your favorite?

My favorite class I took abroad was my language class. Every day for one hour, we had class discussions in Spanish. We consistently practiced vocabulary words, discussed Spanish films, learned colloquialisms of Andalusia, and analyzed the differences between Spanish and American culture.

Upon my arrival to Spain, my Spanish was decent, but I was hesitant to speak aloud because I was not used to constantly speaking Spanish. This class gave me the confidence I needed to go out into the world and use my skills to meet new people and communicate with other Spanish speakers.

Another benefit to the class was our teacher Vicky, who was interactive, patient, and extremely entertaining. Vicky created an encouraging and supportive environment that provided us with a comfortable space to converse.

Most students who study abroad find it to be an incredibly life-changing experience, how have you experiences studying abroad impacted your life?

Studying abroad in Spain was an experience that changed my life. I have been eager to travel since I was young, but after learning to travel on my own and becoming integrated in another culture, I realized how much other societies have to offer. I experienced their idea of personal space, the way they valued their families, and their meals that revolved around small plates and tapas consisting of simple, local ingredients. Now, I appreciate other ways of life and have developed a stronger sense of compassion after seeing more of the world and stepping out of my comfort zone.