What made your study abroad experience unique and special?
Emily: I believe my study abroad experience was unique and special because of the program I chose, Sol Education Abroad. The Sol Education group I studied abroad with was outstanding. Our group was smaller than most, about 20 members, so we became very close knit. I formed great bonds immediately with very similar personalities to my own, but at the same time, I learned how to form bonds with people of diverse personalities. We became like a family as we helped each other practice Spanish, navigate the town, and celebrate good times. Every day I looked forward to hanging out with my best friends rather than focusing so much on excelling in the language. This put a fun perspective on the trip in general.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Emily: The experience dramatically impacted me personally, professionally, and academically. Personally I grew so much as a person. This was my first experience abroad alone, without my parents. I gained greater self confidence through doing things for myself such as interacting with locals and group members, acquiring transportation, providing food, and experiencing a host family.
Professionally I now know how to address adults/professionals properly through my encounters at the University of Belgrano. I had to utilize the staff at Belgrano day to day to ensure I was following the proper procedure for my program to receive credits. Academically my Spanish excelled drastically. I plan to use the language in my future occupation as a Speech Pathologist. With my newfound Spanish skills, I will be able to better assist patients with a Hispanic background.
What did SOL do for you and what did you need to do on your own?
Emily: SOL in Buenos Aires provided the majority of my needs during my time abroad. Meals during the week were provided through my host family, however on the weekend I was on my own for meals. Transportation to all excursions was provided through SOL, however transportation to and from school everyday I encountered on my own using the Subte subway or bus system. Sol provided a variety of cultural activities such as museum tours, tango lessons, cooking classes, and cultural immersions. The activities provided through SOL offered a great variety and I could not have asked for more regarding this area. Overall I found myself having to do very little on my own as Sol kept us on a schedule daily and truly covered my needs while abroad.
What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?
Emily: My study abroad city was Buenos Aires, Argentina. For the majority of the trip we remained in Buenos Aires to tour and study, but occasionally we took weekend trips to nearby cities. My favorite excursion by far was our trip to Iguazu Falls. The water falls are a national park several hours north of Buenos Aires. Within the park you could see beautiful landscapes of the falls as well as many native animals. The whole weekend was like a weekend in paradise. The falls gave us an opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires city life and enjoy some beautiful views outdoors in a smaller area.
Did you run into a language barrier during your study abroad experience?
Emily: When I arrived at the Buenos Aires airport I experienced a huge language barrier. Prior to my trip, I had pretty basic Spanish knowledge. I quickly found that very little English was spoken in Buenos Aires. This was very difficult for me at first; however, after meeting my program directors and my host mom, things got better. These people were patient with my broken Spanish and helped me immerse myself into the language. Primarily in the home, at school, and within our group I felt I knew more of the language; however, when I encountered the streets and locals I felt I knew less of the language. These feelings only got better as I took more classes and got accustomed to the city.