Amanda Sharon - 2014 Program Participant

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France


Why did you decide to study abroad?

I decided to study abroad because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and explore the world. I thought that college was the perfect time to be adventurous and take a semester of my life to live in another country!

Why did you choose ISA’s program in Seville?

ISA had a great history/language program at the University of Seville. They also offered cell phones for your time abroad, as well as fun excursions to Portugal, Morocco, and other cities in Spain!

What was your favorite part about Seville?

Seville is a city that's big enough so you're never bored but small enough that you feel comfortable getting around it! Plus, it has BEAUTIFUL weather!

What made your program extra special?

ISA truly made you feel at home in Seville. All the people who worked in the offices were so willing to help you adjust and answer any questions.

What should every student know about ISA’s program in Seville?

Everyone considering going abroad should know that ISA truly cares about its students! They help make your transition easy, and are always there to help. The staff plans weekly excursions for everyone to do (like a soccer game, kayaking, visiting tourist sites, etc.).

The Guadalquivir at sunset in Sevilla, Spain

My favorite spot in Sevilla along the Guadalquivir at sunset!

In what ways did local staff support you during your program?

The local ISA staff helped us adjust through a week-long orientation. They gave us a tour of Seville and offered weekly activities and excursions to get to know the area better.

What kind of cultural challenges did you face in Spain?

Although I had taken Spanish in college, nothing prepares you for what it's like listening to it 24/7! My host Mom did not speak any English, and this was a huge challenge in the beginning. I was very tired and frustrated my first two weeks abroad. However, with some patience and practice, I was communicating with my host family and locals without hesitation anymore.

Another cultural challenge was the food. The Spanish love jamon (ham). They put it on everything! I was known as a "picky-eater" before leaving the U.S., but I learned to try new things while abroad. In the beginning, I was really intimidated by the food, but now I miss Spanish food every day!

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I participated in more of the weekly activities offered by ISA. They held soccer games every Monday night and I always wanted to go and play, but always seemed too busy!

Describe a day in the life of an international student in Seville.

Each morning I would wake up and take a beautiful 30 minute walk to school. I would sit through my classes and then walk home for lunch with my host Mom. I would spend my afternoons hanging out with friends (both Spanish and American) by either shopping or eating tapas. In the evenings, I would either go to a local bar or stay at home and watch "La Voz" (The Spanish version of The Voice) with my host family. Spanish culture was very laid back and relaxing, so my days were always flexible and fun!

Making a wish at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

Making a wish in the Trevi Fountain in Rome!

What did you enjoy doing on your free time?

I really loved visiting historical sites in the city, like the Cathedral or the Tower of Gold. I really like learning about history, so visiting these buildings which are so old was really incredible to me.

What was your accommodation like?

I lived with a host Mom in her apartment. She only spoke Spanish, which was difficult at first but really helped me to improve my language skills. She was so sweet and helpful, and always cooked authentic, delicious meals!

How has studying abroad in Spain impacted your life?

Since studying abroad, I feel like I have a greater appreciation for things. I am more independent and brave since returning from abroad, and I am always willing to try new things now! Studying abroad helped me get out of my comfort zone.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

My first instinct is to say Sevilla, because I loved my time abroad so much! If I had to pick a different place though, I would consider Florence, Italy. I have never been to Florence but it looks beautiful and I love Italian food! However, it is important that everyone knows, Spain will always be my number one choice!

How has studying abroad impacted your career goals?

Before going abroad, I was unsure of what I wanted to do as an International Relations major. Now that I've lived abroad, I realize that I want a career in helping others to go abroad as well. I enjoy traveling and writing. I've considered teaching English overseas, but for now my options are still open!

View of Chefchaouen, Morocco from the mountaintop

The view after hiking a mountain overlooking the blue and white city of Chefchaouen, Morrocco

What do you think the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

There are SO many benefits to studying abroad, but I would say the biggest one is independence. I have always lived an hour from my parents/family/friends, so being in a new country was a challenge at first. I learned how to budget my money, make decisions for myself (like booking a spontaneous trip to London without consulting anyone), and getting around a new city on my own. I learned to always be aware of my surroundings, how to read a map (I'm not talking a GPS on a phone, but a real-paper-map), and how to assimilate myself into a new culture. Now that I am back in the U.S., I am not afraid of new adventures anymore--in fact, I crave them! I loved my independence abroad, it taught me so much about myself that I am forever grateful for the opportunity!