Alumni Spotlight: Millie Payne


Millie is a psychology major with a Spanish minor. She is from Toccoa, Georgia but attends school in Rome, Georgia. She is an extrovert who loves people and is always willing to dance no matter the dance move!

Why did you pick this program?

I chose Spanish Studies abroad because they are a huge partner with my University. The program reached out to Spanish students. The program portrayed a great learning environment, easy application process, and a very welcoming staff.

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

"You are going to wish you studied vocabulary more." Studying another language abroad is difficult either way but preparing and knowing more vocabulary will always help in the long run.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

It is really hard to pin point the most important thing because I learned so many great things. Ultimately, I am proud of myself for holding onto my dreams of studying abroad and going and doing it without fear! It is really scary to think about going abroad and studying a language practically by myself. It was a challenge but it was the most rewarding experience of my academic career. I learned about how to push myself to my fullest potential, and I would go again in a heartbeat!

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

DO IT! Don't let anything stop you from going. It is the most rewarding experience of your educational career. You will learn tons about yourself and others. No matter your major, you should study abroad.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Just getting exposed and used to another culture. There are several things that are different in Spain versus the U.S. i.e. food, in-house rules/customs, transportation. It was tough at first getting used to the food and wearing shoes inside of the house but after a while, it became second nature.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

One of the scariest experiences was when I arrived at the airport and I only had 15 minutes of free wifi. I contacted my mom and boyfriend to let them know I made it, although I was a wreck! I couldn't locate my luggage, had no idea how to ask or who to ask for that matter, and I had no idea who was picking me up or where they were picking me up. Then once I finally found my luggage and my ride, I couldn't contact my mom to let her know I was safe for about two hours. But everything ended up fine but it was very scary at first!

What made this experience unique and special?

There weren't that many students in my program so I really felt like a family with our instructor and my peers. They were so friendly, and we wanted to do everything together. I got more out of the trip than just learning the language; I made friends for a lifetime and brought back memories that will never fade!

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

I had previously taken 7 years of Spanish before going abroad but the amount I learned in one month could not even compare to the 7 years in the states. Taking a language class with none of your native language spoke inside of the classroom will ultimately teach you the most. Also, being exposed to so many other languages and cultures inside the classroom is so unreal and awesome!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Get everything out of the experience that you can. Go on excursions, go on cultural trips, and learn! Your time will be over in an instant, and you want to have those memories and no regrets. Experience it to the fullest and enjoy it!

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

I really loved the Spanish language and culture before I left for my trip but experiencing it first hand only fueled my desire to learn more. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about my trip abroad. I took two Spanish classes that were for my minor but I still have some Spanish credits I need to graduate, so I am actually returning to Spain this summer! I couldn't wrap my head around doing anything else. After studying abroad, I can ultimately see myself fluent in Spanish and possibly even living abroad!

Any study abroad tips?

Save money and prepare before hand. You don't want to limit yourself when you get there. I had enough extra money so that I never had to say 'no' to anything I wanted. Travel while you're abroad it is easier while you're there!