My name is Ryan Weitzel, and I´m currently involved in a one month study abroad program in Santander, Spain. Hopefully after having read a bit about the different programs offered through CSI you´ll take advantage of one of these great experiences. Study abroad programs are one of the best ways to see the world, meet people, and learn a new language.
I found out about the Center for International Studies at CSI during my fall semester of 2011. I had just started taking Spanish 113 at that point, and I was also trying to pick my major. After taking Spanish 113 and coming to the realization that I enjoyed learning this new language, I decided that I wanted to do a study abroad program. After looking over the many different programs, I decided that a summer in Spain was the one for me. I then prepared for my trip by taking Spanish 114 during the winter semester, and 213 during the spring. I left from New York on the 29th of June and arrived here in Santander on the 1st of June after a short ten hour trip.
Santander is the small charming capital of the region of Spain called Cantabria. It´s located on the North Coast of Spain and is honestly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. There is also an unbelievable amount of stuff to do here. You can go spelunking, surfing, rock-climbing, kite-surfing, snorkeling, salsa-dancing, sailing, and shopping all in the same week if you were so inclined. It can be very relaxing or very exciting; the choice is up to you. Also, in my opinion, the town is the perfect size; from the campus you can walk to either side of the city within 10-20 minutes.
The university I’m attending here is La Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP). The college itself is awesome. The classes are small and cater to all levels of Spanish, but the professors are what make it so great. Most professors are locals but others come from all over the globe. They are a mix of male and female, young and old. They are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and extremely personable. My only real worry when traveling here was interacting with the professors. I had heard that is was very formal and much different than in the States. This is not that case; I´ve never been so comfortable with my instructors. The classes are fun and interesting, too. Language class is from 9am-1pm on Monday-Friday and the rest of the classes you get to choose once you get here.
Although most of my friends here stay in the dorms on campus, I chose to do a homestay. The dorms are really nice - they have security, they´re clean and they also have common areas where students can meet up to hang out or study. If you can though, I´d go with a homestay. It´s much more personal, and I think you get a better taste of the culture. I stay with an older lady by the name of Julia, and I´m only a ten minute walk from campus. She makes me breakfast in the morning, and she also does my laundry every two days. She´s extremely sweet, incredibly kind, and I think she really likes me. She speaks no English, but we have a lot of fun communicating with each other. We get by without any problems whatsoever. The language barrier is actually a whole lot of fun. I will admit, it was a little awkward for the first two days, but I settled in right after that and now I´d have it no other way. I´m able to come and go as I please, and all she asks is that I don´t waste electricity and that I lock the door when I leave. All my friends that are doing homestays have fantastic families as well; the families do this because they like having people in their homes.
If you have even the slightest itch to study abroad you should absolutely do it. I´ve only been here two weeks, and I´ve already made a ridiculous amount of friends from all over the world. The only unfortunate part is that now I have to come up with a way to visit all these people once we return back to our homes. But honestly, I love exploring, traveling, eating, drinking, and studying with all these different people. I mean, how many chances will you have to fly to Milan, Italy for the weekend because one of your Polish friends mentioned it at dinner the week before? If you don´t break out of your shell now, then you never will. Take a chance, be brave, and do it now while you´re still impressionable. Well, I guess that’s all for now…time to take the ferry to Somo with the Dutch girls to surf. ¡VENGA!