Alumni Spotlight: Amanda Sharon


Amanda is an International Relations major who studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain for 4 months. Besides traveling, she loves quoting Harry Potter, taking siestas, eating ice cream & going for walks with her Mom. Amanda hopes to live abroad again after graduation!

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Amanda: I wish someone had told me that going abroad can be and will be hard. I think people always hear the good stories about studying abroad (i.e. it was so much fun & I traveled everywhere) because they are nostalgic (like I am, most of the time!)

However, living in another country is not always easy. You will miss your friends/family (and certain food too), and adjusting to a new country, city and culture can be exhausting! I slept so much the first two weeks I was in Spain!

However, my best advice for overcoming these difficulties would be to say: "Sure you'll miss home, but this is a ONCE in a lifetime opportunity. Your friends back home are having a party this weekend?

Ya, well you're flying to Rome. There will be other parties." Studying abroad is always worth it. Don't let homesickness distract you from all the fun and adventure that is around you!

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Amanda: I learned to trust my instincts abroad. If I had a bad feeling about something or someone, I always trusted it. When you are living and traveling abroad, you will find yourself lost more than once. Always be aware of your surroundings and follow your gut feeling.

What made this experience unique and special?

Amanda: My experience abroad was made unique by my host family. I lived with a host Mom who only spoke Spanish which pushed me to practice the language constantly.

I also had three older host brothers, who would frequently stop by to visit. I always cherished the big family dinners we would have all together (my host-mom, brothers, their wives and friends).

Everyone was loud, cheerful and hilarious. They were so welcoming and I felt like I was truly part of their family. I always write to my host-Mom, and I plan on visiting her again soon.

Having such a personal connection to where you live can help make any experience abroad truly special. I always tell people that I left a piece of my heart behind in Sevilla, and it's true.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions, future path?

Amanda: My experience abroad taught me the importance of slowing down and enjoying life. Before studying abroad, I was always busy and stressed out. Experiencing Spanish culture and enjoying such a relaxed way of life, I realized how I need to embrace this calm environment. Since studying abroad, I am much happier, and have a better understanding of what is important (like taking a break, having fun, and spending time with family/friends).

What should I pack for studying abroad?

Amanda: Besides the usual... I recommend a side-bag (that goes across your chest) to help prevent pick-pocketing and basic clothes that are easy to mix/match.

I would also advise you to bring a watch and wear it while traveling because it is risky to pull out your nice phone to always check the time.

Don't forget to bring flip-flops if you're planning on staying in Hostels. Also, slippers are a good idea because carpets are not common in a lot of European apartments/houses and the floors can be cold in the morning!