The University of Iowa

Student Reflections on First-Generation Abroad: Dual-citizen in Spain

August 9th, 2013

Dear Prospective Student:

Kelsey Licul studying abroad in Spain

My name is Kelsey Licul, and this fall I will be a sophomore, here at Iowa. I am the first undergrad in my family to attend an American university, since my parents are both Canadian immigrants. Both my parents were raised in Canada and after they got married they moved to the United States. As a duel-citizen I have been able to experience the best of both worlds, and learn a lot about how cultural norms vary in every country. I think that everyone should be able to experience other parts of the world, which is why I thing that study abroad is such a great opportunity for students.

Being the first one in my family to attend an American university, I had no idea of the true benefits that studying in other countries can have. I studied in Madrid, Spain, on the Iowa International Summer Institute program, and I learned so much, in the classroom and out. In the four weeks I spent in Spain, I was able to learn so much more then I ever though I would. Being in another part of the world exposes you to another way of life. Study abroad is great for learning about language, other methods of business, politics, and whatever your area of study.

The majority of my program took place in Madrid, Spain. I enjoyed this program so much because it’s different from many of the other study abroad programs. Mine was four weeks long, and we lived in apartments downtown, rather than with a host family. This was such a fitting program for me, and I really recommend students to go and look at all the options that the study abroad office has to offer. They truly have something for everyone.  I also got to visit two cities, Toledo and Segovia, as apart of my program. My professor and program staff members were all very helpful and encouraged extra travel, and I even got to visit Portugal during an off weekend.

The biggest piece of advice that I can give to prospective students is visit the study abroad office. Even if you have not idea what you’re looking for, the office is incredibly helpful. There are many different types of programs, not just semester ones, or language ones. Another reason that visiting the office is so incredibly helpful because you can learn about scholarship opportunities. I scheduled one meeting at the office my freshman year and two months later, I had a program picked out in my price range and had several scholarship options to apply for. The Diversity Ambassador Scholarship was a great way to show the unique side of myself and get one step closer to completing a study abroad program. As a first generation American I had no idea what study abroad was and I felt like it was an easy and enjoyable experience from start to finish. No matter where you go, it will be a great opportunity to grow and learn.


Kelsey Licul