While most students spent the summer swimming, barbequing, and enjoying a break from school, seven students at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith were immersed in the language and culture of Spain, an experience that taught the students important life lessons.
Taylor Jordan of Ozark, Mo., Danyell Farris of Hartford, Emily Randall of Vandervoor, Heather Rogers of Greenwood, and Alex Nolan, Pamela Rosales and Mariela Esparza of Fort Smith, spent three months in the Iberian Peninsula to fulfill the requirement of the university’s Spanish program, which calls for students to study abroad for a semester.
Farris studied in Granada, a city located in southern Spain. There, she visited several iconic landmarks, including the Alhambra, a palace that was the last Moorish stronghold in the country. She also visited the city of Seville and the Seville Cathedral, one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Farris documented her experiences in Spain on a blog,http://danyellsdreamcatcher.wordpress.com/.
Nolan, Randall, Esparza, Rosales, Jordan and Rogers took courses in Salamanca, home of the oldest university in the country, where Rosales learned that she “can travel around in a city I don’t know and make it back in one piece.”
“I have much more to learn about the world and more places to see, and going to Spain taught me that I’m not finished learning about myself, either,” she added.
Randall, on the other hand, learned that patriotism is a trait not exclusive to the United States.
“Although I love my country, I learned the world doesn’t revolve around the USA,” she said. “People all over the world are patriotic to their own countries and cultures and do things in many different ways.”
Rogers’ experience was particularly eye-opening, as she recalled the night that Germany won the World Cup, where she experienced an epiphany while watching the final game with students of varying nationalities.
“I was standing among students from Spain, Russia, Taiwan, Italy, China, London, Holland and Greece,” Rogers said. “At the end of the game, it wasn’t Germany’s victory that took my breath away. It was the fact that I was standing among a generation of students who represented our planet as a whole, and through all our cultural differences we had one thing in common: the desire to share our knowledge.”
Rosales gave sage advice to future students contemplating studying overseas: pack light, take pictures, and try something new every day.
Dr. Mary Sobhani, assistant professor in the world languages department, said the experience gained by the students is precisely the reason why the university requires them to study internationally.
“UAFS understands the value of these experiences in the formation of global citizens,” Sobhani said. “The source of the richness of studying abroad is twofold. Students can learn from the hours of class work while in Spain, and also from the very nature of having to live life immersed in Spanish culture.”
Dr. Brenda Ross, head of the world languages department, said that the program requirement is a fun and educational aspect of Spanish language acquisition.
“It’s a unique opportunity for our students and plays an important role in helping them to appreciate the many diverse cultures that span our globe,” Ross said.
For more information on all study abroad opportunities at UAFS, visit international.uafs.edu/study-abroad or contact the International Relations Office at 479-788-7166.