Meet Maya Keefer

Program and Location:

Spring, Universidad del País Vasco; Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain

Major/Minor:

Animal Science/Spanish

Why did you choose to study abroad?

I wanted to better my Spanish speaking abilities, learn about different cultures, and have the opportunity to travel abroad.

What did you learn about yourself?

More than I could begin to describe here. Most importantly, that I am able to learn a lot from being on my own.

What was one of your favorite parts of your program?

The friends I made and the travel opportunities that I was able to have.

What advice do you have to future study abroad students?

Dive in head first; there’s no time for worrying because your time goes by so quickly.

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

As a future mixed practice veterinarian, the opportunity to improve my Spanish speaking skills will prove very useful. Many farm workers are Hispanic, and many of the mixed practice vets that I have spoken to have told me that speaking Spanish will be a great advantage, as I will be better able to communicate with the people caring for the animals each day, rather than their supervisors, who are often at least one level removed. I have already been able to implement my Spanish knowledge in my work, by translating for Hispanic families that bring their pets to the clinic where I work.

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

Being female, I was often met with surprised comments about the fact that I was travelling alone. For many reasons, I am immensely grateful that I spent so much time on my own while abroad, as I feel that it helped me to gain a very strong sense of who I am. While my decision to travel alone as a young woman seemed to shock many (especially my decision to backpack alone through a few different countries), I was never scared of my solitude.

Would you do it again?

Most definitely.