Study Abroad

For Modern Language Education majors, the Study Abroad experience can have a profound impact on the development of target language proficiency and in-depth cultural understandings, both critical aspects of a language educator's knowledgebase.  To provide you further insights into the study abroad experience and how you can benefit from it, recent and current SUNY Oswego Modern Language Education majors have shared "snapshots" of their time abroad with you.  Read on and be inspired!

Oviedo (1) - Su13

posted Nov 30, 2013, 4:14 AM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Nov 30, 2013, 4:52 AM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major and Spanish major, Rachel Reid (rreid@oswego.edu), participated in the summer SUNY New Paltz study abroad program in Oviedo, Spain, in Summer 2013.  She shares her experiences below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.

What was the program like?

The study abroad program I participated in was five weeks long and it was through SUNY New Paltz. I studied in the city of Oviedo which is located in the North of Spain, literally in the mountains, and it is the capital of the Austrias region. For this program I left at the end of May and returned home at the end of June. It was difficult to communicate with the program coordinator at SUNY New Paltz at times, because I couldn’t just go to her office. However, she responded to emails and phone calls in a timely fashion which helped a lot. I was also able to talk to Lizette Alvarado in our study abroad office so she acted as a great resource for me during the application and preparation process.  For this program I lived with a host family, because the two options for housing were independent or live with a family. There were also a few other schools that attended the program the same time I did so it was nice to tag along with one of the groups for the excursions, because their program leader had a lot of knowledge about the city. Their program was a little different than mine so they invited us along on some of their day excursions.  This was nice, because it provided me with more opportunities to explore the city, use the language, and learn the culture.



How did this study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?

Studying abroad has positively influenced me. I feel as if I am a more independent person now after my time abroad. I am also much more eager to see the rest of the world! I was afraid to study abroad, because I had never been away from my family for that long before this experience. Also I had never flown on an airplane before! Once I overcame all of my fears I was able to fully enjoy my experience abroad. Although it wasn’t always easy, it was more than worth it. I’m glad I expanded my horizons and traveled to a different country. I feel as if I was able to improve my language skills as well as gain cultural knowledge that cannot be learned from reading a book. The only regret I have is that I feel as if five weeks was not enough time to truly experience this beautiful city. If I could go back in time I would have studied abroad for a full semester or year.


What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?

I attended classes Monday through Friday from 9:30 am – 2:00 pm. The morning was spent learning grammar and the last hour of the day was spent talking about different topics in Spanish. Having class five days a week definitely helped my Spanish, because I was reading, writing, listening, and speaking it. Living with a host mom also really helped me, because she did not know any English so we could only communicate in Spanish. It was quite the challenge but very helpful! One of the great things about this city is that, because it is not one of the main tourist destinations in Spain majority of the people only speak Spanish. I really enjoyed this, because when I would go out in town I would have to rely on my Spanish skills.


How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

During my time in Oviedo I experienced many cultural things specific to the Austrian region of Spain. The first week I was there they held a welcome dinner known as an espicha. Espichas are a famous celebration in Asturias and the main purpose of them is to socialize as there are no chairs. We ate a bunch of tapas such as different types of cheese, ham, bread, etc. We also drank sidra which is a hard cider famous in this region, and wine. Another cultural event that I was able to attend was my friend’s host mother’s birthday! Our host families are very good friends, so I was able to join in for the celebration. There was a plethora of different types of foods set out on the table and everyone was extremely social. The birthday cake was a flan cake and my friend’s host mother made these delicious cookies! It was really neat to see how their celebrations differ from ours.


What special stories or experiences illustrate the value of the program for you?

It is difficult to pick just one story or experience from my study abroad experience that illustrates the value of the program. There is no one word to describe the value of studying abroad. It is such an enriching, life-changing, eye-opening experience that one cannot understand until they go abroad. I will say that one of my favorite moments during the program was hiking all the way to the top of the city. At the top of the mountain we hiked there is a huge statue called “El Cristo” and he has his arms open as he looks over the entire city of Oviedo. The idea behind his positioning is that he is blessing the city. The view from the top was absolutely spectacular and along the way we were able to see an old refugee hut, and old churches. It was breath-taking as was the entire experience!


Barcelona - Su13

posted Sep 4, 2013, 2:29 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Nov 30, 2013, 4:38 AM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major and Spanish major, Breanna Woolson (bwoolson@oswego.edu), participated in the SUNY Oswego study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain, in Summer 2013.  She shares her experiences below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.

What was the program like?

The study abroad program I participated in was a month long, and it was done through SUNY Oswego. Lizette Alvarado was the program liaison for our university, and Dr. Ana Moya and Maria Luz were the program liaisons through the Universitat de Barcelona. The liaisons were so kind and helpful, and they were always available if you needed assistance. When I arrived to Barcelona, I was a day late due to flight complications, and Dr. Moya met me at the residence hall to give me the orientation, since I was unable to go to the one at the university. Included in the program were some excursions, one of the excursions was a bus tour around the city of Barcelona that stopped at some of the major landmarks. We also took a wine tour to the Cava Freixenet winery, a very old and prestigious winery in Spain. The final excursion was a trip to Figueres, Spain. Figueres is about two hours away from Barcelona and the city plays host to the Salvador Dalí museum which we had the opportunity to tour. At la Universitat de Barcelona I took two classes while I was abroad, a culture class and a grammar class. Since I was only abroad for a month, our professors had a lot to cover in a short amount of time. The classes were long, but very worthwhile. I found all the information my professors gave me to be incredibly useful and helpful while improving my Spanish. The culture class was amazing, we did walking and bus tours through the city to see landmarks, historical neighborhoods, and different museums in Barcelona. I enjoyed not only the academic portion of the program, but the people and places I came across along the way. Overall, I had an amazing experience, and I would go to Barcelona again, given the opportunity!

How did this study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?

Studying abroad has influenced and changed me for the better. By traveling abroad you become much more aware of different cultures, people and lifestyles. I grew up in a small town where everyone, for the most part, is the same when it comes to lifestyles. I wouldn’t say I was narrow-minded, but I definitely wasn’t aware of the surroundings outside of my town or even country for that matter. I was placed in an entirely different world in Barcelona, and it opened my eyes and mind to all the wonderful differences there are throughout the world.

What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?

Being in classes for almost 8 hours a day definitely helped me to improve my target language skills but also constantly being surrounded by the language helped me as well. People in Barcelona do speak some English, but while traveling to the different cities in Spain I found that not a lot of people speak English in Madrid, and very few speak English in Seville and Granada. This may be intimidating, but it’s actually extremely beneficial. My biggest problem before going to Spain was my confidence while speaking with natives. I was put to the test when I arrived in Spain. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to practice my Spanish as much as I was.  It has made me much more confident when speaking. My reading, writing and grammar have also improved greatly since I’ve studied abroad. I was only in classes for 3 weeks, and I feel that I’ve made great progress. I could only imagine what three months would have done for my Spanish skills. 

How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

During my month in Barcelona I was completely immersed in not only the Spanish culture but the Catalan culture as well. I knew there was a strong nationalistic feeling among people who were born in Spain, but I witnessed firsthand how proud people in Spain truly are. In Barcelona they speak both Catalan and Spanish; however, I didn’t find this to be an issue at all. Most of the time they can tell you’re not from Spain, and they are more than willing to speak Spanish with you! There are many different regions in Spain and while I was there I had the chance to see some of the differences between them. I traveled to Seville and Granada in the south of Spain during my second weekend there. In the south of Spain life is very tranquil and laid back compared to the urban city of Barcelona. I also had the opportunity to go to Madrid for a weekend, another large and urban city located in the center of Spain. Madrid also wasn’t as busy as Barcelona was but still bustling with the locals traveling to and from the city everyday. The thing I found most interesting about traveling to all the different cities in Spain was being able to see the differences I’ve learned so much about. Everything from the food, clothing, weather and even the accents differed from each region and being there to see it firsthand gave me a better insight to the people, customs, and cultures that make up Spain.

What special stories or experiences illustrate the value of the program for you?

I don’t think there is a single story or experience that illustrates the value of the program for me. Overall, Barcelona was wonderful. Whether it’s sitting outside a café drinking coffee or going to see the beautiful architecture by Antoní Gaudi, there is always something to see and do in the city of Barcelona. I wish I could have stayed longer, a month simply wasn‘t long enough!



Madrid - Sp13

posted Sep 4, 2013, 1:39 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Sep 4, 2013, 2:08 PM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major, Brianna Carnevale (carneval@oswego.edu), participated in the SUNY Albany study abroad program in Madrid, Spain, in Spring 2013.  Brianna shares her experiences below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.

What was the program like?

The semester long program that I just completed in Madrid, Spain was through SUNY Albany Study Abroad. This program offered housing with a host family as well as small classes and lifelong experiences. I studied at El Instituto Internacional de Madrid where I took twelve credits that transferred back to SUNY Oswego to complete my major. Classes offered through SUNY Albany consisted of Business and Commerce of Spain, Colloquial Spanish, Advanced Grammar classes, and Art History classes where, as a class, we visited all of the local art museums and engaged in historical walking tours throughout the city. Orientation in Spain happens the first night where the group goes out for tapas and then the following day, everyone meets at the school to sign up for classes.

How did this study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?

Studying abroad in Madrid has completely transformed me by taking me out of my comfort zone. I was never 100% confident in my Spanish, but living with a host family had pushed me to go above my former speaking abilities and show drastic improvements half way through the program. I also learned to be independent and talk my way around words that I didn’t yet know how to say in Spanish. With independence came learning the metro schedule and where each stop took me, learning about my surrounding neighborhood by walking around, and being able to approach my host family if I had a problem or a concern using the language. I wasn’t always with my roommate or people from the program so at times I had to rely on myself and, if I was really lost, I had to ask a native speaker for directions or learn the city map which forced me to become more confident in my abilities.

What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?

One experience that helped me develop my target language skills was traveling around Spain. Purchasing a round-trip bus ticket or hopping on a train was the least expensive way of getting around. I loved traveling to different cities in the north of Spain and then traveling to the south to contrast the differences. I picked up on the cultural trends of each city like hearing Catalan being spoken in Barcelona, watching flamenco in Sevilla, and eating Paella in Valencia. When I was with my program, it was hard to resist speaking English even though everyone wanted to just ask our director the question in English instead of thinking about it in Spanish. As hard as this was, it paid off in the end because I improved greatly in the past four months. Madrid was one of the friendliest cities I’ve ever been to and the natives showed huge amounts of interest in the American culture and wanted to have a conversation with anyone to help improve their Spanish speaking skills.

How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

This study abroad experience helped me culturally in numerous ways. School was one of those ways simply because no matter what class I was in, everything was linked to current situations in Spain or the past. My business class taught me a lot about how Spain’s economy changed over the years up to the current situations now with high levels of unemployment and protests. Even my grammar teacher tied in cultural readings about flamenco, different battles fought by the Spanish, food, and music into all the lessons. Whether it was furthering my understanding of the preterit and imperfect or learning the past subjunctive, every topic had a cultural reading with these grammatical concepts tied into it. Visiting local places in Madrid also played a huge role. The museums have student pricing.  If you show them your school ID, you receive a discounted admission ticket. There are so many art museums that say so much about Spain’s past and how these artists reflected the history in their paintings. Going to movies was another way to compare culture to our American movies and culture here. Even just taking a walk around the city, there are so many hidden secrets and monuments that if I didn’t understand something or I saw a monument that I wasn’t sure of, I would ask my host parents when I got home that day to explain it to me.

What special stories or experiences illustrate the value of the program for you?

The one experience that illustrated to me the value of this program was the farewell dinner at the institute with all of my professors and friends. I remember showing up the first day of classes so scared because my teachers spoke so fast, I didn’t know what they were saying, I was confused in class, and couldn’t keep a conversation without stuttering. At the end of four months, I remember making my way around the room socializing with everyone and having conversations with my professors about my experiences abroad. I proved to myself that hard work and dedication to the language made everything well worth it in the end. Living with a host family demonstrated to me how the Spanish people live, between experiencing the siesta, trying new foods, learning how to cook, and watching the news in Spanish during dinner all shaped and contributed to who I am now and who I will be as a future Spanish teacher.

Oviedo, (2) - Su13

posted Sep 4, 2013, 1:34 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Nov 30, 2013, 4:43 AM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major and Spanish major, Jillian Schneller (schnelle@oswego.edu), participated in the summer SUNY New Paltz study abroad program in Oviedo, Spain, in Summer 2013.  She shares her experiences below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.

What the program was like?


Incredible! The people were so welcoming; especially in the school I attended. The classes were a little challenging, but easy enough where you still had time to explore and enjoy yourself.


How did the study abroad experience inform, influence, and/or change you?


After studying abroad I felt so accomplished. It was definitely not an easy task for me to live away from home for over a month, but I am so happy I did. I saw things I would have never got to see; like hiking to the top of the city or walking through a beautiful church designed centuries ago.


What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?


My host family did not speak one word of English. At first it was very nerve wracking, but just after a few days I found myself having full conversations in the target language.


How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?


I attended my host mother’s birthday party one weekend evening. Because I was so different from everyone, they talked about all the cultural differences and what life is like in Spain. It was interesting to see people live the way I have learned they did back here in the United States and even got to participate. If only we would follow in their footsteps and make time for siestas!


What special story or experience illustrates the value of the program for you?


Each night while I ate dinner my host mother would speak to me in the target language, which is the aspect of the program I was most worried about. At some points I felt discouraged because I just couldn’t speak as fast or as well as the natives. On the very last day as I was buying souvenirs, a local cashier asked me how long I’d been living in Oviedo. I told them I was studying there for a few weeks and I would be returning to America the next day. With a surprised face they looked at me and told me I speak as if I’d been living there for years. That was the best compliment I could have received.  

Austria - F11-Sp12

posted Jan 2, 2013, 7:12 AM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Nov 30, 2013, 4:38 AM ]

Adolescence German Education major, Andrew Baldwin (baldwini@oswego.edu), participated in the full year study abroad program in Graz, Austria, from Fall 2011 - Spring 2012He shares his experiences below and invites you to contact him if you would like to know more about the program.


What the program was like?

The program was typical in the fact that, I studied at a university (Karl FranzensÜniversität), and I was able to live in student housing, or in my own apartment. However, the program had many excursions that consisted of culture enriching experiences.

 

How did the study abroad experience inform, influence, and/or change you?

Studying abroad opened my mind to the world. I was introduced to a deep amount of literature, culture, and language. Many famous classic writers came from Austria, and I was able to read their works in the vernacular, and appreciate their specific style. I allowed myself to sink deep and become engulfed into the culture around me. I tried assimilating myself as much as I could. I did not want to come across as a foreigner, and during the process of this I obtained a deeper understanding of their culture. I also had the opportunity to meet an older woman, whom I spoke/taught English with, and she gave me an in depth view of Austrian life.

Coming out of the experience, I have matured a great deal. Going to Austria was a dream of mine, which I fulfilled, and it has made me feel like nothing is too hard to obtain.

 

What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?

In the midst of cultural assimilation, I studied the ways others around me spoke, even non-native speakers. I tried to notice the differences in dialects and accents, and apply them to my own speaking. I also did a lot of reading. I began by reading literature of Austrian authors, then bought books that I read previously in English, in German, for example “The Lord of the Rings”, then afterwards, watched the movies in German, with German subtitles. I watched a lot of TV shows, as well. The most effective technique I found was submitting your-self to only speaking the language with native speakers. Finding real friends that you need to communicate with in the target language. Also not being afraid to make mistakes, and taking risks with vocabulary words.

 

How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

A huge component of studying abroad is travel. I had the opportunity to spend time in many different European countries. I studied the language of each country so I could get by in basic conversation. I also socialized with the locals, and inquired about their culture. During Christmas I spent a week in Hungary with a friend and learned all about how Hungarians celebrate Christmas. I obviously did the typical sight-seeing when I visited various cities, but I focused more on the local life. I was more interested in how people live, and function in these cities, than stumbling through museums. Venice is well known for its high density of tourists, though a few friends of mine and I stumbled upon the local area’s hidden away from the masses of tourists. I also visited a lot of small towns, or villages, some of which were so secluded English was not well known.

 

What special story or experience illustrates the value of the program for you?

I was in Salzburg with one friend. We were staying in a hostel on a cliff over-looking the city. To the right of us was the famous fortress, and to the left was the awakening city. It was 6 am, and we were standing outside of the hostel in awe, watching the morning fog flow over the fortress and through the streets below. Not a word was said between the two of us, as we sat and appreciated the natural beauty that was being force fed to us. Others began to wake, and slowly filtered out of the cottage. With the fog came a wave of silence. A pin could have dropped and the echo could have resonated for the next 15 minutes. I looked at my friend, and we both just started laughing. We both had an understanding of why we broke the silence and started laughing; it was happiness, at its purest. We both became witness to morning bliss, and it was a welcoming experience to the country of Austria.

Barcelona - Sp11

posted Dec 5, 2012, 4:57 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Aug 28, 2013, 6:02 AM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major and Spanish major, Lindsey Knecht (knecht@oswego.edu), participated in the full semester SUNY Oswego study abroad program in Barcelona, Spain, in Spring 2011.  She shares her experiences below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program. 

What was the program like?

The program was a wonderful experience.  It lasted a semester, and classes were taken through the Universitat de Barcelona.  I lived in La Residencia Roca, where many of the other students with the program stayed.  In this housing facility, there were girls on similar study abroad programs, however they were from different parts of Spain.  None of them knew any English, so it was fun to be able to talk with them, and practice our language skills in an informal setting.  I was a little intimidated by the length of this program, but when it came time to leave, we were all asking, “Can’t we stay just one more month?!”

How did this study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?

This experience helped me not only develop my language skills, but it also broadened my knowledge of another culture very different than my own.  I find that I am more accepting of people who are different than I am, and more conscious of the different cultures that exist.  I felt like I was living in a different world in Barcelona.  It was an experience someone can only imagine.  This experience solidified my choice for wanting the study Spanish and wanting to share my findings in a classroom of my own.  I find myself advocating for the study abroad program and experience to friends of mine.

What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?

It was really nice to be immersed and living in the language.  There were many times that different situations came up that we HAD to use our Spanish.  It was nice that we did not always have that easy way out of using English.  I learned many different words that are used in the culture that we do not learn about in classes in the United States, because they are specific to that particular culture.  By the middle of the trip, I was even thinking in Spanish!

How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

This trip helped me to comprehend the cultural understandings that exist outside the United States, and it allowed me to have acceptance for people who are different than I am, and who live differently than I do.  I was somewhat narrow-minded, living in Syracuse my whole life.  I do not mean narrow-minded in a negative manner, I mean that I never really took the time to understand other cultures.  Now, when I see people that belong to a different culture than I do, I find myself asking them questions about it or researching it.  The differences between cultures are so interesting!

What special stories or experiences illustrate the value of the program for you?

I do not think that I have one specific story or experience that illustrates the value of the program for me.  Every single day in Barcelona was not only a blessing, but a learning experience in disguise, that broadened my knowledge on a different way of life. 

Ecuador (2) - Su12

posted Sep 2, 2012, 6:52 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Nov 30, 2013, 4:40 AM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major, Amanda Prince (aprince@oswego.edu), participated in the 5-week SUNY Oswego study abroad program in Quito, Ecuador, in Summer 2012.  She shares her experiences below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.
 
What was the program like?

The program was truly amazing! I really wanted to travel abroad since I had only been to Spain in high school. Since I knew I really couldn’t fit a whole semester abroad into my busy schedule, I decided a summer program would be the best for me. I really enjoyed being able to experience the culture and the life of Ecuador. Some of the activities I truly enjoyed were zip lining over the Amazon, white water rafting, as well as learning about the indigenous people and their crafts. Living in Quito was quite eye opening and very lively compared to living on the organic farm in Río Muchacho.
 
How did the study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?

This opportunity truly had a large impact on me. It gave me another outlook on life. I realized how fortunate I am for having clean, fresh water every day as well as other amenities. In regards to my language skills, traveling abroad really gave me the opportunity to use my Spanish every day. Having this opportunity made me realize what I need to work on and strengthen. I really feel blessed to have had this experience, and I can’t wait to share it with my future students.

 
What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?

The grammar class helped me tremendously.  The class addressed many concepts that may not be addressed in upper-level Spanish classes at SUNY Oswego.  It consisted of me and one other student, which was perfect for asking questions one-on-one and truly studying the language in depth. The first half hour was dedicated to speaking, and our teacher would ask us questions about the USA, where we lived, our family, what we did in Ecuador so far, personal hobbies, etc. It really helped me to build confidence, perfect the different tenses based on context, and eliminate the hesitation when I speak. Mere, the instructor, incorporated culture into all her lessons.  Everything was worthwhile and was centered around the different cities in Ecuador, foods, historic aspects and the things that we were going to do later that month. Living in the hostel for a month was amazing because everyone truly got to know the hotel staff that we could practice our Spanish with. I am friends with everyone on Facebook after the trip, and I keep in touch with everyone from the hotel and talk to them in Spanish on Facebook which keeps my Spanish on point.   Shopping in the market helped too because bartering was a huge part of getting the best deal there!
How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?
Living in Quito really taught me a lot about other cultures, especially that of Ecuadorians. It’s interesting living in a foreign country because you are literally surrounded in their culture. I have always had a passion for culture and learning from others. This experience allowed me to do just that. One day we went to visit a woman in her weaving shop and we were able to watch her weave a piece. I realized how hard these women work to create such works of art. This is something someone might take for granted. Also, the process the weavers go through to make different colored dyes (using small bugs and varieties of plants) is simply breath-taking.

What special stories or experiences illustrates the value of the program for you?

One of my favorite memories was when we, as a group, attended a fútbol (soccer) game. It was a game of Ecuador versus Colombia. This game was a big deal because these teams were archrivals, and both had amazing teams. It just felt so amazing being there at the game because it was such an amazing moment, being surrounding by Ecuadorians, friends, new friends and having that feeling that you are a part of this, a part of Ecuador, a part of history.

Paris - Su11

posted Sep 2, 2012, 6:07 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Aug 28, 2013, 6:03 AM ]

Adolescence French Education and Music dual major, Maureen Scoville (scoville@oswego.edu), participated in the SUNY Oswego study abroad program at La Sorbonne, in Paris, France, in Summer 2011.  Maureen shares her experiences from this summer program below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.
 

What was the program like?

The program was amazing!  Céline Garelli is the director of the program and really made sure we felt like we were at home.  There were 3 classes involved with this program.  The grammar class was taught in French by a professor at La Sorbonne and based on your individual proficiency level. The culture class was taught in English by Céline.  Both classes ran for the duration of the program.  The 3rd class was a pronunciation lab.  We worked one-on-one with a professor as he coached us through the proper pronunciation of the French language.  I wish the lab ran for the entire duration of the class because it was such a great learning experience!  The class schedule is busy.  Our group left for class early in the morning (around 7 a.m.) and, most of the time, we did not return until late at night.  However, unlike in the States, the French do not hand out an extensive amount of homework.  Also, keep in mind much of our class time with Céline entailed excursions across the city to places we would never have the opportunity to get into, such as: The National Assembly (where we met the President of France!!) and the U.S. Embassy (where we learned about applying for jobs within France).  We also were able to ride the T.G.V. to Belgium where we were able to sit in and witness a meeting at the European Parliament.  So, although we were in “class” the majority of the time, we still had plenty of time outside of class to enjoy Paris!
 
How did this study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?
 
Throughout the program, Céline would often say, “You’re not tourists.  For the time you are living here, you are Parisians.  This is your city now.”  This really changed my mind set.  She wanted us to participate in local everyday events and go to the different neighborhoods to explore.  Of course, we did check out the tourist sites.  Our class was literally right across from the Notre Dame!  But our group really made the effort to speak with the locals, go to concerts, watch the French Open, read the daily newspaper, etc.  I think the most important thing I learned from this experience was to take advantage of the surroundings.  The excursions with Céline were often outside of the classroom and showed me possible career opportunities that I would have never considered before taking this trip.  Not only that, the summer program is smaller than the semester program (9-10 people) which gave Céline an opportunity to be more personable with us.  She even invited us to her home to taste some local cheese and wine!  Our group still stays in touch every day.  We really became great friends over sharing this experience and still reminisce about the great times we had!

What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?
 
I developed better language skills through the pronunciation lab and by conversing with the Parisians.  In Paris, the French often speak English near the tourist areas.  However, we lived in the 14th arrondissement which was helpful because we were away from the attractions and in the “real” parts of the city.  Our group made the effort to talk to locals and other La Sorbonne students.   Most of the time, they wanted to speak French with us which was great for improving our listening and speaking skills.  However, on occasion the locals would want to improve their English speaking skills.  So we made them a deal: they could speak English to us if we could speak French to them!  It was a really great compromise because everyone was improving on their language skills.  Overall, the French are really great about encouraging you to speak their language.  If I made a mistake, they would correct me.  There is no other better educational resource, than the French themselves! 

How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

I believe studying abroad helped me experience the French culture first hand.  Sure, anyone can read a French novel or watch a French movie. But the experience of living in France is something you cannot get from any book or movie.  I was able to taste their delicious food, look at amazing art, attend local concerts, go to local markets and read their papers and magazines.  It really brought the novels and textbooks I read to life.   However, I think the most informative experience I had was (again) talking with the locals.  Since the French have a great relationship with United States, they would often speak to us with amazement.  They were so curious about the American culture which I found interesting because I was so curious to learn more about their culture!  It was really interesting to see their point of view of us, as Americans, and their perspective of their own culture.  After speaking with them, I was able to hear their perspective on their history, the World Wars, their architecture and their opinions on French literature and art. It shed a whole new light on French culture!
 

 What special stories or experiences illustrate the value of the program for you?

I can’t pick just one story to illustrate my experience.  The summer program is only one month long and I wish it would have been longer! 

Puerto Rico - Su12

posted Sep 2, 2012, 3:29 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Nov 30, 2013, 4:41 AM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major, Elizabeth Rosa Morales (mmorale2@oswego.edu), participated in the SUNY Oswego study abroad program at La Universidad de Río Piedras, on the outskirts of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in Summer 2012.  Rosa shares her experiences from this 4-week summer program below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.
 

What was the program like?

This summer program was about understanding Puerto Rican Culture. There was a history class about Puerto Rico and the influence of the United States and other countries on Puerto Rico.  There was also
a Spanish class that could be taken at different levels, such as basic, intermediate, and advanced. 
 
How did this study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?
 
This study abroad experience helped me realize that different cultures in the world make human beings special and unique. Now, I want to travel to other countries and learn about other cultures.

What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?
 
I am a native speaker of Spanish, so I mostly learned about the culture of the "Enchanted Island" of Puerto Rico. 

How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

I think that studying abroad gives the opportunity to interact with a new culture. When I was in Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to talk and observe Puerto Ricans.  Most Puerto Ricans are friendly and outgoing.
 

 What special stories or experiences illustrate the value of the program for you?

In the Puerto Rican history class, we had several trips to different places in the island.  On our trip to Culebrita, I learned how to swim.  Culebrita its like paradise to me.  A Puerto Rican family helped me and gave me confidence when I was trying to swim.  They taught me how to swim.  I value this program because I had the opportunity to learn many things, and I now I have many experiences. These experiences will help me in my future career.

Buenos Aires - Sp12

posted Aug 10, 2012, 5:46 PM by Joanne O'Toole   [ updated Aug 28, 2013, 6:02 AM ]

Adolescence Spanish Education major, Brianna Carnevale (carneval@oswego.edu), participated in the SUNY Oswego study abroad program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in Spring 2012.  This quarter course begins on campus in January and concludes over Spring Break in Argentina.  Brianna shares her experiences below and invites you to contact her if you would like to know more about the program.
 

What was the program like?

This quarter course was centered on the city of Buenos Aires.
Professor Loayza focused on Buenos Aires past and present, including its founding, exploration, political history of the Perón dictatorship, Argentinean soccer, customs, and modern-day society such as life in the “conventillos” or slums for the poor. On campus, we learned about the city and how to navigate it to prepare for our travel. Once in Buenos Aires, we went to the various sites that we learned about and applied our knowledge to make history come alive in front of our eyes. We went to La Casa Rosada or the president’s house in Plaza de Mayo, La Reccoleta, which is the famous cemetery of Eva Perón, several cultural museums, the old and new ports of Puerto Madero y La Boca, Tango Salons where we took a tango lesson, the theatre to watch a Spanish play, Las Pampas where we spent the day on a Gaucho farm, and more. It was an incredible experience to not only see these historical sites first hand, but to also experience the different markets and culture within the city which was perfect for talking with the local residents and feeling like we belonged to this Spanish-speaking culture. Learning about the city ahead of time was the perfect approach because we had a foundation of background knowledge when we arrived.
 
How did this study abroad experience inform, influence, or change you?

This experience in Argentina was unforgettable. I want to share with my future students one day and persuade them to travel as well. This trip allowed me to make the connections between the past and the present. For example, it was interesting in class when we learned about the Perón dictatorship and watched a clip of Eva Perón speaking to her followers on the balcony of La Casa Roasda. In Buenos Aires, however, I found myself blown away by actually standing in the middle of Plaza de Mayo and staring directly at the President’s house envisioning where Eva Perón had spoken. Just thinking about how many people supported Eva during this time when women weren’t normally associated with political power was unreal, and I was standing in the very same place where they had been. Also, “los desaparecidos” or “the disappeared ones” recalls a terrifying time for the people of Argentina. Right on the floor of the plaza are painted white bandanas where the mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared stood protesting and rallying for justice against the government while holding pictures of their missing loved ones wearing these white bandanas. I developed a real empathy for what the people went through. History is all around us, and it will never go away because what happened back then still impacts a country today.


What experiences helped you develop your target language skills?

This was the first trip where I was able to speak the Spanish outside of the USA. Simply bargaining in the markets or talking with the waiters at dinner about what’s good to try on the menus or what are the typical dishes that represent the city, really helped me to practice my Spanish! When restaurant servers saw we were Americans and handed us menus in English, we asked for the Spanish version or simply read the Spanish version on bilingual menus. I learned so much vocabulary from that and from reading the signs around the city. By dedicating myself to speaking Spanish in Argentina, like when I asked for directions on the street near the hotel, I was successful in making myself understood and was proud of myself. Having even small conversations put me on the right step! Listening was another skill I felt that improved for me. In the hotel room, the TVs were only in Spanish. Forcing myself to only watch Spanish soap operas or even music videos, helped me to focus in and try to understand what they were saying. The play that we went to was awesome to experience. It helped me to focus and pay attention to the characters, story line, and what was going on! Keeping a journal in Spanish improved my writing and is something I recommend for anyone traveling anywhere! Writing in my journal at the end of the day forced me to practice my grammar and vocabulary while mentally recapping the places visited that day…stories I hope to share with my own classes one day.
 

How did the study abroad experience help you develop cultural understandings?

A lot of the restaurants that the group went to were local, authentic Argentina cuisine. There is a strong immigrant influence, however, throughout all of Argentina. There were cafés, for example, that mixed traditional Spanish cuisine with Italian food. Trying different foods was huge because the country is known for their beef, so I definitely wanted to try different cuts of meat or local fishes when we were near the ports. Embracing the impact that the immigrants had on the city such as having various pasta dishes or going to a local café for pizza done Argentinean style was equally important to me because when I think of Italian food, I immediately think of Italian-American food such as chicken parmesan or spaghetti and meatballs. In Argentina, everything is extremely fresh and fragrant with usually smaller portions. It’s typical with their culture to eat a late dinner usually around 9 30 or 10 00 and just relax with friends. In the first restaurant I went to with the group, the waiter gave us the menus, and we had to tell him when WE were ready to order. He never rushed us or kept asking are you ready yet? We were never rushed or given the bill right when we were done eating. Their culture embraces the definition of “living free.” Never in the USA would people be sitting outside at a café till 1am eating and having a good time knowing that they have to get up for work early the next day. City tours also helped me to develop cultural understandings because not only is the guide solely speaking in Spanish which helps listening skills, but also I got a better appreciation for the Porteno’s typical lifestyle, how much more expensive or cheaper things are than here in the USA, the architectural aspects of the city, and more insights on this huge city.
 

What special stories or experiences illustrate the value of the program for you?


The experience on the Gaucho farm absolutely blew my mind and was by far one of my favorite parts. It was the day that made me realize why I want to be a Spanish teacher and why I traveled to Argentina. Traveling to the Pampas was a 3-hour bus ride from the city, and it truly was open fields of green with small cowboy towns mixed in. One town we stopped at was so small, but it defined the gaucho lifestyle, selling mate and the traditional poncho and boots of the gauchos. Leather is a huge industry there and the smell of fresh leather belts and satchels in one of the stores was incredible. There were hand-painted pictures of gauchos in their natural settings living on the ranches. Once we got to the ranch, the group welcomed us with homemade empanadas and a feast of fresh vegetables that the ranch grew, handmade sausages, different fresh cuts of meat the gauchos would eat, delicious sweet potatoes and salads, and so much more. The irresistible meals really gave us a sense of what it means to live like a Gaucho. During our feast, three of the men began playing typical songs with the instruments native to their cowboy culture where the women began dancing and showing us different steps to one of their fun, cultural dances. After lunch, we went horseback riding through the open fields of the Pampas which were absolutely breathtaking. It was an experience that I will never forget because of the innocent beauty of the lush, green fields with the mountains in the background. Finally, the Gauchos preformed many tricks for us on horseback such as standing up on the horse’s stirrups with it galloping as fast as it could towards a giant bar with a tiny hook hanging from above. The Gaucho must hook a metal circle on to the device hanging above while on the horse going extremely fast. They did a lot of tricks with the flags on horseback as well as more events too. This day was by far my favorite because it put a smile on my face. Knowing that these Gauchos live carefree, yet work so hard to sustain everything, makes a person truly appreciate life and the effort and value of life these people treasure. When I stepped onto the ranch it was as if all my worries were forgotten because of the warm, tranquil and welcoming atmosphere surrounding the Pampas. These cowboys are proud of where they came from and are committed to keeping things traditional. It goes to show that a person doesn’t need materialistic items or a whole bunch of fancy things to be happy.

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