Spain

I’m close to my halfway point in my study abroad experience, and I think I’ve gained enough experience and expertise to let other people know exactly why they should be doing exactly what I’m doing (but in their own way!) If I can convince at least one person to go through with a study abroad experience, I think I would be happy. There are a million reasons why people should study abroad, or travel in general, but here are a few that I came up with that I think are pretty convincing arguments.

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October 8th. Can you believe it? I can't. It's been more than a month abroad, and somehow I'm still surviving. Actually, I know how I'm surviving. With lots of pastries and tea.

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I am at the point where everything is starting to feel somewhat normal and at home here. Things are feeling familiar to me, and it’s been more than 24 hours since I’ve gotten lost–although I wouldn’t put too much confidence in my inner-GPS skills just yet. I am also very consciously wondering, “Am I integrating myself into the culture enough? Do I look the part? I haven’t had paella yet, should I be worried?”, while also comparing what it’s like to be an American, a University of Iowa student, even just an Iowan, to the culture here.

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Just over 4,155 miles from Iowa City lies Oviedo, Spain, the hometown of freshman golfer Elisa Suarez. “People in the United States are very welcoming and open,” she said. “It was also nice to see that people had interest in meeting me and learning more about my culture.”

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I have never felt as though I belonged in Iowa — there was always a part of me that felt I needed to be elsewhere, be someone else. Last month, my dream of studying abroad came true in Madrid, Spain. Sangria, siestas, and sunshine were on the horizon.

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To me travel has always been about the people I would find in each unique place. When I day-dreamt about my future exploits I was never in a given place for less than a month. Once I had decided that I simply had to stay in these foreign locations for a longer period of time, I decided studying abroad was my solution. Now, how just how was I going to pay for it…

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Thanks to the support of generous private donors, these UI students were able to study or conduct research abroad in the past year, gaining invaluable experiences and memories that enhanced their education and lives.

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The final event in the spring 2014 Fulbright Lunch & Learn seminar series will be held Friday, April 11, from 12:30-1:20 p.m. in 1117 University Capitol Centre. Bring your lunch and hear from UI English professor Phillip Round, who will present "Cross-Cultural Teaching: Expectations vs. Reality.”

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Are you thinking about international research, study, or teaching? Please join us for our upcoming international and Fulbright-related events coming up after spring break!

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University of Iowa alumnus Michael Lynch was knocking out Spanish lyrics as if they were second nature during his recent blind audition on NBC’s The Voice. Lynch, who joined Christina Aguilera’s team for the competition, credits his study abroad experiences with polishing his Spanish skills.

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