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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Evelyn in Granada, Spain

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 Evelyn Gonzalez ’17, a Psychology and Spanish major currently studying abroad in Granada, Spain.

Hello, my name is Evelyn Gonzalez and I am fortunate enough to be studying in Granada, Spain for the fall semester of 2015.  I want to thank Dr. Speros and the Speros Fund for making this unforgettable opportunity possible! I have been here a little over a month, and I have already fallen in love with the beauty of Spain.  In addition to my classes, I am interning at MenSana, which is a well-known psychology clinic in the city of Granada.  My internship has definitely helped me grow not only as a person, but as a future psychologist as well.  Although I recently just decided on majoring in psychology, I was fortunate enough to be allowed to work with two professional clinical psychologists in Granada.  At my internship, I speak with the two psychologists about how clinical visits are done and structured.  Although the health-care system is quite different in Spain than it is in the United States, I am lucky enough to be working with a clinical psychologist who is absolutely passionate about her career and who has spent half of her life living in the United States.  I am completely grateful for this because not only am I learning about being a psychologist in Spain, but she also helps me by comparing the career of a psychologist in Spain with the career of a psychologist in the United States.  I have listened to actual recordings of sessions which have definitely benefitted me by giving me an idea of how therapeutic sessions are structured in general.  I have also practiced, both as a patient and a psychologist, how to conduct a therapeutic session.  I believe all the experiences I have encountered and will continue to encounter will definitely prepare me to be a better psychologist when I intern at psychology clinics in the United States upon my return.

 

As for adapting to a new culture, this has been both an adventure and a challenge.  Because the Spaniard accent is different from any other Spanish accent I have encountered, it has been a little difficult to keep up with a conversation with a Spaniard.  Additionally, I have found the language challenging because in Spain, they have a slightly different vocabulary.  That is, I have come across situations when I express a thought in Spanish to a Spaniard and they look at me with confusion.  Afterwards, they explain that either that word does not exist in their Spanish or that word means something completely different in their Spanish.  Although this has been challenging, it has also been a great adventure, as it has helped me expand my vocabulary.  Another interesting aspect is the host-family life.  Living with a host family is definitely a great way to integrate into a new culture, as you have to do things they way they do it, For example, meal times are completely different in Spain than they are in the United States.  Here, they eat breakfast at 8 or 9 a.m. and then eat lunch at 2 or 3 p.m.  After that, they do not eat dinner until 10 or sometimes even 11 p.m.  At first, this change in meal times was a huge challenge, but after a week or so, you get use to it because everything in Spain adapts to this meal time.  For example from about 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. everything closes, including the school building.  This is nice because it shows how Spain respects lunch time and even includes (officially) an hour or two after lunch for a nice nap! The siesta (nap) has definitely been one of my favorite things about the Spanish culture.

 

Overall, studying in Spain has been an amazing experience.  In my opinion, studying in a country that’s different from your own opens up your eyes to the cultural differences that exist! I definitely believe that studying abroad at least for one semester should be mandatory for everyone, as it is a life-changing, unforgettable experience!