“As a student, I have realized that some of the best learning takes place outside of the classroom,” senior Ellie Campbell said.
For the fall semester, Campbell, a double major in Spanish and politics, philosophy and economics (PPE), has been studying abroad in Spain.
She feels as though this experience has positively grown her both as a student and as a person.
“While I take all of my classes in Spanish, my language skills have improved the most through being immersed in a Spanish-speaking culture and my everyday interactions in Spanish,” Campbell said. “As a person, I have become more independent and realized my desire to live abroad in the future and work in international development.”
Campbell felt drawn to Spain after spending prior time in Europe and falling in love with the continent’s beautiful landscapes and unique lifestyles.
She also expressed a strong desire to grow her Spanish-speaking skills.
“One of my first impressions of Spain and its people was that they have a lot of pride in tradition and heritage,” Campbell said. “They are proud to be Spaniards and eager to share their culture and country with outsiders.”
As part of the semester in Spain program, Campbell stays with her Spanish señora, Carmen, who treats her like a granddaughter.
Carmen cooks all of Campbell’s meals and does her laundry. The two often eat their meals together and Carmen helps her practice Spanish.
She feels blessed by the sense of hospitality that people like Carmen have displayed during her time in Spain.
“I had heard about Spanish hospitality before coming here, but I had never experienced it,” Campbell said. “The Spanish people are incredibly personable and love to talk with you for hours on end over coffee and tapas.”
Campbell has established a solid routine during her time abroad.
Each morning, she eats a breakfast of coffee and toast at her host family’s apartment, then leaves for school around 8:30 a.m.
“The walk to school is about 20 minutes and depending on my class schedule that day I may stop at a cafe on the way,” Campbell said. “I have no more than two classes every day which are done by 1:00.”
After class, she often socializes with other students before heading home for lunch with her señora.
Campbell then observes the Spanish tradition called a “siesta” by taking a nap, calling her mom or working on homework.
“In the evenings, I either go to my flamenco dance class, a worship service at the school, catch a movie with friends or find a new tapas bar or heladeria to go to,” Campbell said. “I have dinner around 9:00 with my senora, and then watch TV or read in bed until it's time to go to sleep.”
She then does it all over again the next day.
For Campbell, one of the most difficult transitions was getting accustomed to Spanish cuisine.
“Mealtimes are significantly more spread out than they are in the US, and Spanish cuisine is unlike any I have ever eaten in the US,” Campbell said. “I do live close to a McDonald's and a Taco Bell, which I go to every time I'm feeling the need for some American style fast-food.”
Since arriving in Spain, Campbell has had the opportunity to do some exploring.
One experience in particular stands out to her.
“One of the coolest things I have gotten to do since being in Spain was hike 20 miles of the Camino de Santiago, one of the most important religious pilgrimages in Europe,” Campbell said. “It was incredible to be a part of a religious experience dating back centuries, even if only for a weekend.”
As she finishes off her semester in Spain, Campbell feels grateful for the opportunity and the learning that she has acquired and experienced.
Being immersed in Spanish culture and further learning the Spanish language has been extremely valuable and rewarding for her.
“If you have the opportunity, I definitely recommend the Semester in Spain program!” Campbell said. “Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.”