Meet Jaineida Iraheta (she/her)
Program and Location:
Summer, Human Resources in Seville; Seville,Spain
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to explore various Hispanic cultures. As a Latina, I am familiar with my own culture, and I was eager to learn about the cultural differences in another Spanish-speaking country. That’s why I decided to study abroad in Spain. It also provided a wonderful opportunity to travel outside my home country and meet new people.
What did you learn about yourself?
I discovered my ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations. Initially, the program was challenging due to the lack of minorities, however, I eventually connected with new people and formed closed bonds with those who share similar interests and challenges as me. Seeing the way of life in another country has inspired me to visit other Hispanic countries and explore various cultures.
What was one of your favorite parts of your program?
My favorite part of the program was the opportunity to travel on the weekends. During these free weekends, I explored different cities in Spain, local places and visited other countries. it allowed me to discover unique characteristics of each region and make new friendships. While on my travels, I engaged in conversations with various people and learned more about their experiences and stories.
What advice do you have to future study abroad students?
For future abroad students, I highly encourage you to do three things; explore what’s around you, talk to new people and expose yourself in the local language. You have a great opportunity to learn and travel to a new country; make the most of it by visiting not only the tourist areas but also local places. Avoid spending excessive time traveling to other countries, I encourage you to travel to nearby countries where travel time is short. Simply visit places near you, go to different cities and talk to new people. I suggest visiting local coffee shops and starting conversations with the staff. Lastly, learn the language of the country! You don’t have to be fluent, but locals appreciate when you try and do your best when talking in their native language. This is how you get the most out of your travel!
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?
Our class took various field trips throughout Spain. We toured the city’s main attractions and watched dance performances. We were able to fully immerse ourselves in Spanish culture. Following these experiences, we wrote reflection papers to capture our thoughts on our experiences. Additionally, we had a privilege to listen to guest speakers ranging from doctors, business professionals and investors, who shared insights into their career in Spain.
In what ways did your identity have an impact on your experience abroad?
As a Latina and a minority, I did stand out, I didn’t look like the typically person in Spain. While I didn’t experience discrimination, I did receive some stares. Another challenged I faced was the lack of minorities in the group. It was hard forming connections with others who were significantly different from me, I struggled to relate to them. However, I made new friends with the many from the minority group. We frequently traveled together and did everything together. It was fun getting to know those who have a different culture than me but yet we were similar in many ways.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Find that one person you relate to and do everything with them; you do not need a whole group to have fun. Don’t try to “fit in” with the rest of the group, embrace yourself and your identity. You’ll experience more joy when you be YOU. In addition, if your comfortable don’t be afraid to travel by yourself and explore. However, make sure you’re not traveling alone at night and make sure someone always has information on your whereabouts for safety purposes. Lastly, do what YOU want to do, if no one wants to join you, go by yourself. My only regret is doing what the whole group wanted to do instead of venturing off on my own (or with a friend) and doing what I wanted to do.
Would you do it again?
Yes, I would!