Kari Miller - 2012 Program Participant

Bull fighting ring in Sevilla, Spain

Corrida de Toros (Bull fight)

Why did you choose International Studies Abroad (ISA) over other study abroad program providers?

I looked through a lot of programs, countries, and various options. It was very overwhelming at first, but I slowly narrowed it down to Spain. Then, when I was looking at programs I liked the price of ISA for the number of services, excursions, and length of the program.

One big worry that I had was the visa process and getting to San Francisco, but ISA provides a service that goes to the location to take care of the application. That was really huge, especially when it came down the nitty gritty of choosing a program. ISA also has an amazing support system and the staff is out of this world. I had some trouble with financial aid before I left, and they really helped me figure it out and were very understanding.

What advice would you give other students preparing to study abroad in Spain?

I think one of the biggest things that I learned while abroad is that it can be easy and tempting to stick with your American friends and continue to speak in English; but really push yourself to interact with locals and communicate in Spanish as much as possible. This is such a great opportunity to educate yourself on another culture and language, and also to meet some really great people. Speak to everyone in Spanish, and soon you’ll know way more than you thought you would. Also, get out, discover, walk through new neighborhoods…oh and get a bike pass! There are stations in many of the cities and it is pretty cheap, and then you can ride a bike anywhere it’s so great and much quicker.

Study abroad students in Granada, Spain

Kari and her friends on a visit to Granada, Spain

Why was Seville the best place to study abroad in Spain?

I don’t know if it was the best place, but during my search it was the best fit. When I decided to choose Sevilla it kind of all floated together. I looked through ISA’s program guide and read about different cities throughout Spain. I also looked over classes that were provided in various areas. Sevilla had a unique culture, beautiful architecture, seemed small, but was also a nice size city. I loved the atmosphere in Sevilla once I was there. It felt like there were a lot of places to discover and explore, but it also seemed like a closer community than some larger cities.

What was your favorite class in Seville?

While in Sevilla I was enrolled in four classes (12 credits) all taught in Spanish. I loved all of my classes. The teachers were very helpful, funny, and exemplified their personality through their teaching. My Spanish Literature class and Grammar class were both amazing because my professors were not only great teachers, but I built an interactive and fun relationship with them both. I learned so much about poetry, writing, Spanish, and even more about the English language through these classes. My Medieval Art class was great as well; the professor was entertaining and I learned to appreciate and respect art on such a greater level.

How has study abroad changed your life?

Wowzers… what a question! When people ask me about my experience abroad I am so overwhelmed to try to even conjure up an answer to that question, and I warn people that there isn’t really a short answer. There were so many emotions, experiences, and relationships that occurred and developed throughout my time abroad.

Student with International Studies Abroad program leaders in Portugal

Kari with the ISA program leaders on a trip to Portugal

Studying in Spain was so difficult and amazing at the same time. For the first time in my life I was in the racial and language minority. I felt that I stuck out a lot of the time and that many of my actions were being analyzed. Although it was challenging at times, it taught me so much about being in the minority. I have become so much more open-minded and accepting of individuals who differ from me. I’m much more hesitant to judge people immediately and aware that when I do, I need to question my assumptions. It helped me develop a love for all groups of people and individuals.

I also used this experience to develop a Thesis project through the Honors College at WSU, and conducted research on the effects of studying abroad. It has opened so many more doors academically, professionally, and mentally. I have used my Spanish numerous times…I could go on for hours! Have a great time and dive in because you have nothing to lose!