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Kaitlin Fuelling '13
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador?
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience abroad and would love to be able to share it with present and future individuals. I believe that while I may have been just another Bronco abroad, I do believe I had some more educational experiences and adventures than others. I really enjoyed hearing previous student's experiences and suggestions and would be appreciative if someone had recommended things to see, bring, or perspectives of what they might encounter as they leave not only a familiar school, but country.
Deciding factor for studying abroad?
I always knew that I had wanted to study Spanish and felt that Spain would be the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in the language, as well as the European culture. I loved the location of Barcelona, the proximity to the coast made it a more comfortable or familiar environment as I live by the coast at home, as well as its close proximity to Europe.
Defining Moment Abroad?
This question may be as difficult as the mass amount of people who asked when I returned, what my favorite part was. The difficulty is because it was an experience lasting almost four months, plenty of opportunity to have some favorite moments, enjoyable and life-changing. I think the fact that I could observe the surrounding areas, poor, rich, similar, and different, and accept them and at the end live among them, allowed me to really change my perspective on the world. I am an avid runner and so when I arrived in Barcelona, I made sure to make running a habit. Not only was I able to explore the city to a greater extent, find places and people I may not have seen had I not run, but also jump head first into the culture. I signed up and participated in three large races, winning 3rd in one, as well as participating in the Spanish running club. This was one of the more difficult aspects because I was required to talk to people and make friends as we ran. Running in these races allowed me to feel more a part of the culture because I was just another runner, not a blonde foreigner. This reminded me that it takes effort to assimilate into a community, but with some help and some hard work, anything is possible. It is important to factor in what is important to you and make it happen no matter what.
Advice to Prospective study abroad students?
My main recommendation is to really immerse yourself in the culture, soak up everything you can so that you won't have any regrets when you leave. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and even if it means leaving your SCU buddies behind for some time to meet different students, both from foreign schools and other schools from the states. It is important to leave your American wants and perspectives behind or to not let them dominate your time abroad. Every other country will be much more different than the United States and it is impossible to change that, so instead of fighting to maintain your American identity, enjoy living abroad. I think I made the decisions I needed in order to maximize my experience. While people do have a lot of fun, I made sure that my priorities were put in perspective. So, my friend and I made sure to learn the city we lived in back and forth by walking everywhere, talking with the locals, creating a relationship with our host-mom, as well as finding and immersing ourselves in every historical place, museum, tourist and local hotspots. This way, when we left at the end of four months, I have very little regrets. I think it helped that I had talked with a few different people who had attended this program in the past. I gathered the tips and benefits of certain things.