My semester study abroad was worth it. To live under another roof with strangers, study in an unknown city, learn the culture as you're in the culture while at the same time attempting to become fluent will be unforgettable. The semester study abroad program was a unique experience that I would have never received anywhere else.
As an Anthropology major, I imagined myself one step ahead of everyone with transitioning into my new environment — being someone that seems more aware and sensitive of sociocultural dynamics. I quickly realized that the classroom is quite mundane compared to out in the field. Being a foreigner for four months opened my eyes to the walls and barriers that prevent a person from "living like a local," as we liked to call it. Whether it was the color of my hair, the American stereotype of being a drunk and promiscuous, or my level of Spanish, there was much difficulty battling these pre-construed ideas when all my desire was to make new friendships and learn from the culture.
I tend to describe my experience as a time that broke me, but for the better. By leaving the country and studying in a place that is an 8.5 hour plane ride away, there became a real sense of separation. Though technology was a great source to reconnect me if I missed home, the fact that I could only Skype specific people and provide infrequent updates pushed me into a time of seclusion. During these four months, I didn't have family or already established friends to keep me sane. Rather, I had to learn what was my true backbone.
Through my experience at Wheaton, my faith has grown and my relationship with God has truly become more real. Considering this foundation that was built, participating in a semester study abroad program pushed me into a state of total dependence on Him on a more intimate level than I could have imagined. My faith truly became my own, a real dependence on God. Additionally, the difficult times were also accompanied by many cherished memories.
I specifically chose a non-religious affiliated program because I wanted to see my faith challenged outside a Christian context like the one at Wheaton College. The simple acts of abiding by the Wheaton covenant while abroad shocked more people than I expected. In addition, my constant commitment to weekly bible studies, prayer mornings and Sunday church services showed my classmates I wasn't just abroad to live up the experience for academics and to have a good time. Rather, I had another significant part of me that was an obvious influence in my daily routines. God blew me away with conversation after conversation about my Christian faith and why I live the way that I do.
I could not have received these types of experiences if I would have stayed at Wheaton for that semester. I am so grateful for the overall experience and my semester study abroad program that allowed to to study for four months in Sevilla, Spain.
Interested in participating in a study abroad program? Click the button to watch our video and hear from students about the value of studying abroad.