Siena Terenzio - 2013 Program Participant

Siena was born in Boston, Massachusetts-however her world adventures began early on in life. At two months old Siena was brought to Siena, Italy, the city she is named after, where she was baptized. During her childhood she traveled with her family all over the world, from South America to China, so Siena has experienced the traditions and cultures of communities worldwide. She has aspirations of becoming a professional in the field of Public Health, keeping communities healthy on an international level.

Plaza de Espana
Plaza de Espana. Photo by Siena Terenzio

Why did you choose ISA over other study abroad programs?

I spent weeks researching all of the different study abroad programs offered in Spain. I went back and forth between cities and companies until I found the perfect fit: Sevilla, Spain with ISA. I chose to go abroad with ISA for starters because of their price - obviously, when I was searching through all my options the price was one of the top deciding factors, and ISA had prices that were very reasonable given my budget.

The second factor that I had decided on was the housing options. I knew that I wanted to live with a host family in order to enhance my Spanish. ISA offered apartments, dorms, and host families.

The final deciding factor (I didn't realize how significant it was until I was actually in Spain) was the excursions. ISA includes many different excursions in the program price, and I went on all of them minus one. I traveled around Spain as well as to different countries, stayed at high end hotels, and the best part was that the excursions were with everyone in the program. A few examples of where I traveled to are Toledo, Madrid, Lisbon, Portugal, and Morocco all with ISA. 

You’re from the University of Massachusetts, what advice would you give to other Massachusetts students going to study abroad in Sevilla?

Not only to students in Sevilla, but to anyone studying abroad I would give the same advice - Do everything and anything you can!!! Every single day in Sevilla was a new adventure and I recommend that everyone that studies abroad tries their hardest to get as much out of the city, the country, the culture, and the language as they can!  “When in Rome do as the Romans”. Try and speak the language, meet locals, enjoy the local dishes, marvel at the amazing architecture, and participate in cultural traditions.

My final piece of advice, mainly for Sevilla but again this can apply to anyone, take in every second and don't take any of it for granted. I had a 40 minute walk from my house to the school; before I arrived in Spain and I looked at google maps, I was nervous that I was going to have to take a bus or bike in order to get to class on time. During my final days in Spain I began taking long-cuts in order to make my walk to and from class as long as possible. I walked as slow as I could, appreciating every smell, every sight, all of the sounds, and just the feeling of walking through the most beautiful city I had ever experienced. I advise everyone to take the “long-cuts” home, and relish every second of them.

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

Sevilla is the most amazing and beautiful city in the world. Hands down. That is the simple response to this question.

Another reason that Sevilla is amazing is because the Andalusian Spanish is extremely hard to understand! But...if you can understand Andalusian Spanish you can understand any Spanish in the world. It's an accomplishment.

In addition to the beauty of the city, Sevilla is an amazing place for anyone to visit- there are multiple historical landmarks, from the Alcazar to the Cathedral; there is so much to learn from this fabulous city. As a college student studying abroad it is very important to meet locals and really immerse yourself in the lifestyle of a Sevillano, the people of Sevilla make this very easy. From the local bars to the grocery markets everyone in Sevilla is laid back, nice, and willing to talk if you make an effort to speak their language. With that being said, even if you don't speak Spanish it becomes a game trying to have conversations with locals, with one party speaking only a few words of Spanish and the other party only speaking a few words of English.

What was your favorite class and why?

I took a variety of courses while studying in Spain. I took Spanish, which was more intensive than the others because we met every day instead of twice a week. I also took an Economics course learning about the EU, Multiculturalism and Education, and Social Psychology. It is hard to chose my favorite because they were all very interesting, and it was so compelling to learn about concepts through the perspective of a different country.

My Spanish professor was a sweetheart, and although she was not teaching a high level Spanish course, she did not speak very much English- therefore the whole course was taught in Spanish, and if we did not understand something it was explained further in Spanish instead of being translated to English. Learning the language this way was so much more beneficial than just reading out of a textbook like we do at my home university.

Looking back, my Social Psychology class was definitely my favorite because of the teacher. Her name was Marjan De Pooter, she was from Belgium, married a Spaniard and is now teaching Psychology to American students in Spain. Because I am a Psychology minor I knew a lot of the material that we covered in the Psychology course in Spain. However, the teaching methods were very different. The class was a discussion, everyone was able to give their opinion, there were multiple hands-on activities we did in order to learn different theories, and we watched many videos of real studies that have been done across the world to reiterate what we were learning. There was never a dull moment in Marjan's class; she was an excellent teacher, and that’s why her class was my favorite.

I think that the reason the courses are different in Spain is professors in Spain looked at me as a person who wanted to learn and they were happy to teach me and help me learn. Marjan De Pooter became a friend to me, and even a year after I have returned from Spain we are still in touch regarding my schooling and her teaching - she still gives me life advice that I will forever treasure.

How has study abroad impacted your life?

It is almost impossible for me to describe how much my study abroad experience has impacted my life; the easiest way would be to sum everything up by simply saying that living in Spain for four months changed my life extraordinarily for the better, in ways that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I have been traveling my entire life; from the time I was two weeks old I was on a plane to be baptized in Italy. Traveling has taught me an unbelievable amount about the world, but living in a new place, and traveling alone taught me to appreciate the world so much more. I learned about myself, I grew as a person. I learned how strong love can be, I loved wholeheartedly, and I learned heartbreak.

The people that I met in Spain were so different, coming from all regions of the world, each having something new to offer. My host parents took me in as if I was their own daughter and the staff at ISA looked out for me as if I were a lifelong friend. I felt so cared for and loved by the people and the city together, and that is only one of the ways in which I grew emotionally. I realized how important it is to take in every sight and smell every day because at any moment, it may all be gone.

Any last piece of advice or useful tips for students?

I learned to never abandon anything you love, no me ha dejado, Sevilla hasn’t left me - and it never will. This is the symbol of the city of Sevilla. History states that when the son of King Alfonso X tried to overthrow his father and take over Sevilla as well as other parts of Spain, the people of Sevilla said “no me ha dejado”, they would never abandon their city or their king. There is an emblem “No 8 Do” that appears all over the city of Sevilla even today.

It is hard to put into words the extent of all of my feelings and memories of Spain, and anything I can say does not come close to what it was actually like to experience everything that I experienced and lived through.