Austin Edwards - 2013 Program Participant
Austin is from Omaha, Nebraska and is currently earning his degree at Creighton University. Since his semester abroad in Seville, Spain, he can't stop planning his next trip abroad. He hopes to find a job in the future in which he is able to use many different languages, including Spanish and Portuguese.
Austin and His Friend in Front of the Giralda. Photo by Austin Edwards
How did you decide to study abroad in Spain with ISA?
I knew that I did not want to go on a school study abroad program because I felt like I would only be around people who were from one school, and it didn’t make sense to only be around people I either already knew or already knew each other. I wanted a program that had students from all over the USA.
Another important factor was the prices and class offerings. The prices seemed affordable for what was offered, and as a business student, it can be a bit more difficult to find classes abroad in Europe that satisfy course requirements at my home university. ISA's program at UPO in Sevilla provided classes that I needed so I wouldn't fall behind in school at home. The website had a great appearance. It was easy to read, it looked professional, and the staff was incredible with all of my preliminary questions about studying abroad. They were always readily available.
What advice do you have to share with other students about to embark on a study abroad program in Spain?
My biggest advice would be to learn the language, practice Spanish with people, and make Spanish friends. This was one thing that I only started to do towards the end of my time in Spain, and I wish I had began earlier. As someone new to a country and not confident in my Spanish at first, it was easy for me to only hang out with other American students there. I made amazing American friends that I shared great experiences with, but I wish I had made more Spanish friends in my time there. That is the best way to discover a culture.
Sevilla was just the right size. It wasn't as big and loud as a Madrid or Barcelona. It was very "Spanish". Madrid and Barcelona are very international cities; there is a lot of Spanish spoken there, but there is also a lot of English speakers and a bigger melting pot of people from around the world. I wanted a "Spanish" experience and in Andalucia, I knew I could get that. The weather was very warm and the city was enchanting. It seems straight out of a fairy tale book, with people who have so much passion and pride for their culture and where they come from.
What was your favorite course during your program?
Although I am a business student, my favorite class there was Spanish Culture. With a Spanish teacher who had also spent time in the States, it was a perfect class to discuss differences between Spanish culture and American culture, as well as the reasoning behind what they do. I learned so much about the food, history, and festivals that are celebrated in Spain. It made me appreciate everything about Spain and Sevilla much more than if I hadn't known the background.
How has study abroad changed who you are and how you think?
Looking back, I changed so much over those four months. To go somewhere completely new with a new language by myself was one of the best things I have done for myself. When surrounded by the unfamiliar, one grows and their perception of the world grows. I became much more accepting of the way people do things. I have become more adventurous, to now say "let's go!" to something I may not have wanted to normally do. I've seen beautiful places and awed at some of the most magnificent structures that humans have created.
I have met so many people and now have friends all over Europe, and now in South America as I write this from Brazil. Speaking of Brazil, I have wanted to continue traveling ever since studying abroad. There's always going to be more places to see and more people to meet for me now.