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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Guadalupe in Granada

Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience.  This week’s feature is from Guadalupe Cervantes ’16, a dual major in communication and Spanish, currently studying abroad at Lake Forest College in Granada.

Deciding to study abroad has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. At first, I was unsure about studying in a different country due to the fact that I was going to be away from my family and because I would be living with strangers but I knew that if I did not take advantage of the opportunity, I would end up regretting it in the future.  I’ve been in Spain a little over a month now and I couldn’t be happier with the culture, the people, and most importantly with my host family. Not only that, I’ve grown and learned so much about myself.  I know that once I go back home I will miss Granada, the friends that I’ve made, the breathtaking views, my host family, everything.                                         

Before coming here, I was unsure of what to expect.  Coming from a very traditional Mexican family, I grew up speaking Spanish, which I thought would be the same Spanish that they spoke here but I was wrong. There are times when my host family and I have conversations and I have to stop them all the time to ask them what a word means and they do the same if they don’t understand something that I say.  Even though many of their words are different from what I am used to, we always end up understanding each other, I’m learning a lot from them.  I have adapted really well to their language, and their food, although I must admit that I really miss my mom’s cooking.  It’s hard to be away from my family but my host family has done everything they can to make me feel comfortable. My host mom has cooked Mexican food, we go out to eat together, watch movies, and we joke around, they treat me as part of the family.

I am learning a lot from my host family and from the classes that I’m taking but most importantly, I’m learning a lot about myself as a person. Before I came here, I considered myself a very responsible and independent individual but I’ve realized that I wasn’t as responsible and independent as I thought. Back at home, I depend so much on my family for everything and I feel that depending on a group of people doesn’t really make me responsible.  Not having my family here, has led me to make decisions on my own.  I am able to go out when ever I want but that comes with being responsible and making sure that I make the right decisions. I have visited places that have broadened my thoughts, I have increased my knowledge and some of my skills and all that together has made me more confident. When I’m back home, I’ll make sure to continue making decisions without depending so much on my family, I will continue to explore new horizons, and will continue to be confident. Studying abroad had been great! There are really no words that can explain how great this experience has been so far.  There are times where I have to convince myself that I am really here, living this amazing experience, making new friends, and enjoying life.  I will forever be grateful for having the opportunity of living this amazing experience.