Alumni Spotlight: Maria Loja

Why did you decide to study abroad with AIFS at the University of Salamanca?

Maria: I decided to study with AIFS because it had great recommendations and the program took care of everything including many trips within the semester. As far as studying at the University of Salamanca, I didn't have to think much once I learned about the history behind the university.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

Outside of Toledo with the AIFS group

Maria: Prior to studying in Salamanca, I had studied abroad twice for a month. One month vs. 5 months abroad is a completely different experience. In Salamanca I had the opportunity to wander more around the streets, to talk to locals and to get a better grasp of the Spanish way of life. I'm originally from Ecuador and I loved seeing the differences and similarities between both cultures.

Out of the entire trip, the friendships have been the most significant outcome of this adventure. The AIFS groups offers a great support system, but I was lucky enough to find another support system with the host family too, especially my flatmates. Besides keeping in touch, we have been lucky enough to reunite in NY, a year later in Salamanca (where we stayed with our host family), and in Chile in 2011.

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc)

Maria: The first outcome of this experience was that I needed to travel more, but it also encouraged me to learn more about my own culture. When I returned to the States I ended up declaring Spanish as a minor. Today I am looking for a career that can keep me close to my native country.