Meet Andrea Medina

Program and Location:

Summer, Marketing and Language in Sevilla; Seville, Spain

Why did you choose to study abroad?

Studying abroad is something I always wanted to do because I desire to learn and grow about the world and all its amazing people and cultures. My dad spends his life traveling the world and it inspires me to do the same. He’s always told me amazing stories about the places he has traveled to so that made me want to take any and every opportunity I could to go abroad. My family is also Hispanic so they speak Spanish fluently. I grew up in a very americanized school system so the pressure to learn Spanish was minimal. Now that I’m older I saw how important it is to know Spanish and understand the Spanish culture. I saw that the Spain trip offered Spanish as a course + the opportunity to live with a host family that ONLY speaks Spanish. This inspired me to choose Spain as my study abroad location because I knew I would undoubtedly improve my Spanish while immersed in Spanish culture.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned how important it is to value impermanence. Looking back on my trip brings back a whirlwind of positive and meaningful emotions. It blows my mind thinking of how quickly it went by. I went to Spain knowing that at some point it would end, this inspired me to make every moment worth remembering. It reminded me how important it is to live in the moment. This mindset then propelled me to step outside my comfort zone and meet people from all over the world. All this ultimately showed me that I am someone who is truly able to appreciate the world around them and that enjoy learning from all experiences life throws at me.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

My favorite parts of the program included me and the 21 other students planning events during our free weekends. I loved this because it showed how close we all had become over the course of the trip. Everyone there was eager to learn and become more immersed into the Spanish atmosphere. One weekend we planned a trip to Malaga. Malaga is a popular beach town in southern Spain where many people from all over the world travel to. We all rode the same train at the same time and we all stayed in a hostel, so it was basically one giant sleepover. It was truly a memorable experience and I wouldn’t have had it if I hadn’t gone on this study abroad trip.

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

The two best pieces of advice I can give are: do research beforehand and keep an open mind. I had never been abroad before this trip, so I knew if I didn’t do any research beforehand then it’d be a little harder to get accustomed to the Spanish lifestyle. I researched how to be safe, how to avoid looking like a tourist and how to find the best places to explore. Once I arrived in Spain I had at least an idea of what I was getting myself into. And its important to keep and open mind so that you’re able to get the most out of your experience abroad.

How did your study abroad experience prepare you for your future career?

It prepared me in more ways than I could imagine, for example it gave me actual foreign language experience. I’ve been learning Spanish in school all my life. And after my month in Spain I realized how outdated a lot of the “slang” and vocab was from the actual Spanish dialect. This is important to keep in mind and inspired me to listen to Spanish podcasts to better immerse myself into the Spanish language while I’m in America.

Were you surprised by anything during your time abroad?

What surprised me the most were the people. From fashion to personality, everybody was interesting. The fashion was extremely modest, trendy, and grungy. Everyone always seemed to try their best to dress nice and look put together. And their personalities were on the sassier side. I think this has to do with how fast they speak their Spanish. They get mad at each other if they’re not quick enough with their responses so this has developed into a sassy, quick witted group of humans who live in Spain. All in all, very interesting and fun.

How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at NC State? Did you take any field trips or do anything outside of the traditional classroom?

My Spanish class was very different from my Spanish classes in America because I wasn’t just focused on Spanish in the classroom, I was focused on Spanish the whole time. That makes a huge difference in language learning proficiency. My marketing class was more in depth as well because we often went field trips to local business such as a winery, olive oil factory, glamping hub and many more.

In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?

I am a 19 year old Hispanic woman who speaks minimal Spanish. So I had them fooled until I started speaking. They knew I wasn’t from Spain but they assumed I wasn’t an “American,” until they heard me speak. That being said, Americans definitely have a stigma surrounding themselves when studying abroad. The stigma isn’t anything extreme but it does make people weary of being open when meeting you. Its our job to behave accordingly when traveling abroad because we need to diminish the native stigma surrounding Americans.

Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?

Be yourself but be aware of the society you are immersing yourself in so that you don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Where did you find support to navigate any challenges you faced abroad?

My host family was extremely supportive and very helpful when navigating the culture and society that in Spain. My fellow students were also very helpful. WE all did our best in being there for each other and communicating issues and solutions to each other.

Would you do it again?

Yes! Duh!