Julie Therien - 2013 Program Participant

One of Julies Last Visits to Plaza de España.
One of Julie’s Last Visits to Plaza de España.

How did you decide to study abroad through ISA?

I chose ISA over other study abroad programs because of its strong reputation for study abroad programs, and also because the classes were perfect for my minor. I also had heard great things from previous students who studied with ISA.

What did you learn from your experience that you can share with other UCLA students who are interested in studying abroad in Sevilla?

For other UCLA students going to study in Sevilla: make the most of your time there. It is truly a precious thing, being able to live in a foreign country for a period of time, and it goes by so fast. Sevilla has such a small feel compared to UCLA: walk everywhere, hang out at Parque María Luisa, spend a good hour every day sitting down for coffee. Sevilla has a really nice slow pace to it, and it is important to make the most of that atmosphere.

Explore whenever you can, but don't get so caught up in traveling every weekend that you don't have time to enjoy the city around you. At any other point in your life you can travel somewhere and be a tourist, but this is the only time that you can (sort-of) be a resident in an old Spanish city. I think that a lot of people get caught up in the whole "study abroad image" and feel like they have to travel to 20 different places to make it seem like your experience was exciting and worthwhile. That is definitely not true.

Out of all the possible destinations in Spain, what makes Sevilla the best to study abroad in?

Sevilla was the best place to study abroad in Spain because of its large student population, slower feel, and authentic Spanish feeling. After doing lots of research on where I wanted to study in Spain, I decided on Sevilla because it is less populated than some of the large cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people speak real Spanish (and not much English!),  it has that hot, late summer feeling, and there is an atmosphere where you could literally spend all night bar hopping and eating two-euro tapas. Not many other cities have the same atmosphere as Sevilla.

Sevilla was also a good place to fly out of when traveling to other cities, and because English is hardly spoken in Sevilla, I was certainly challenged to improve my Spanish a lot. Most people walk and bike around downtown, and hang out at little cafes and tapas bars. There is really nowhere that feels like Sevilla.

What was your academic experience like with ISA in Sevilla?

I would have to say that I had two favorite classes when I studied at the University of Sevilla. I took a class called Cultura de la Gastronomía de España, which was pretty cool. We learned about the history and culture of basically every food that is important to Spain. We learned about things like the history of the fork, how wine is made, how coffee is roasted, jamón iberico and jamón serrano, and the many different types of olive oil that Spain boasts. One day, we toured a market to see what kinds of food are offered on a regular basis in an open air Spanish market. I loved that class because I learned a lot, and I learned lots of details about why Spanish food is incredible.

My other favorite class was a class on Translation. It was definitely harder than all my other classes, but I liked it because my teacher was awesome. He really pushed us to learn new things in every class, and the subject is very practical. I am definitely a better translator now than when I started the class!

In what ways has studying abroad impacted your life?

Studying abroad in Sevilla has impacted my life tremendously. I feel like in all of our four year universities in the States, it is easy to lose sight of what the rest of the world does and how different other people's values are. Beyond traveling a lot and eating lots of interesting foods, I really feel like I learned about a different way of life. There were certainly difficult parts, like getting used to different cultural norms and adjusting to the difficult accent in Sevilla, but those things just make you learn. 

The positive parts of studying abroad really can change your life. This sounds cliche, but I do feel like Sevilla is almost like my second home.  I would love to go back and work in Spain or do a degree abroad. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime, and even talking about it now makes me so nostalgic. It kind of feels like it was all a dream. If you have the opportunity to study abroad, consider yourself extremely lucky and go see what you can learn! Its a big world out there, and with an open mind and a desire to learn, there is so much out there for you to find.