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Off-Campus Study

Notes from Abroad: Amanda in 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 Amanda Peterson ’18 a SOAN and Spanish double major currently studying abroad with ISEP’s Spanish Language and Culture program in Spain.

Hey Foresters!

My name is Amanda Peterson. I’m a second-semester SOAN and Spanish double major at Lake Forest College and I’m lucky enough to be spending the semester at Universidad de Vigo in Vigo, Spain. Aside from a quick trip to Montreal over the summer, this is my first time out of the US – I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I LIVE HERE! Vigo is a beautiful port city in the region of Galicia, just an hour and a half north (give or take) of Porto, Portugal. I wish I could say that I adjusted smoothly and easily, but I’ll be honest… it’s been tough. There are definitely times when I’m so frustrated with my still-developing Spanish that I want to give up, but the view from the bus ride to class every day is so worth it. It also helps knowing that other people here are in the same boat. Just today, my Spanish language professor started teaching us about the indicative, a verb form that basically makes the Spanish world go ‘round. With complete and utter horror, the other American students in the class and I realized why we’ve been getting such weird looks from shopkeepers and other native speakers… the structure we use in English to politely ask for something is SUPER rude to use here in Vigo. We all lost it! Things like this help remind me that I’m learning something new every single day… and that I’m not alone. We all make stupid mistakes, in our native language and absolutely in our second language too.

One of the best parts about being abroad is how accessible the rest of Europe is. My best advice is to squirrel away as much money as you can (summer earnings, family gifts, etc.) and go experience the world. In just two months here, I’ve visited London, Santiago de Compostela, Cork, Dublin, and Madrid, and I’m lucky enough to have trips planned for Brussels, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Lisbon, and Porto. I’ve been able to share these experiences by visiting some of my Forester family too (Louisa Van Akkeren ’18, Angelena Dalporto ’18, Miko Delacruz ’18, and Andrea Castellanos ’15)! I’ve definitely spent my fair share of time in airports, but I wouldn’t trade basically moving into Madrid Barajas for the world.

None of this would be possible without the aid and support of my incredible family and the George L. Speros Fund for Study Abroad. Thank you to Lake Forest College for giving me the opportunity to broaden my horizons. I miss my Forester family, but I can stand to spend another few days in the Spanish sun!

The pictures I’ve included are of me posing at the top of O Castro (a beautiful “mountain” with an incredible view of Vigo); me and Louisa Van Akkeren ’18 visiting the incredible Cliffs of Moher in Ireland (where she’s spending the semester); and me standing in front of Oso y Madroño, a statue in Madrid that I learned about in David Fernández-Díaz’s class “Spain Today” (the sun was in my eyes).