The University of Iowa

Student Reflections on First-Generation Abroad: Fast-paced learning

January 24th, 2013

study abroad student enjoying his time in Spain
Dear Prospective Student,

My name is Andres Alcala, and I am a senior here at the University of Iowa majoring in Photography with a minor in Spanish. I decided to go to Madrid to study abroad. The program was an amazing experience that I will always remember and an amazing eye opening experience. I enjoyed every part of the trip, as there was always something new to do and explore.  The program I was part of allows you to go through a year’s worth of Spanish material in just a semester. Although it is fast paced the learning the language while being in a country that speaks said language helps so much. Even though I spent a semester there I still feel like there was still so much left to be seen.   

Studying abroad wasn’t something I had thought about too much. It seemed like something that was unattainable and then something in me just clicked. If I really wanted to have these experiences, experiences that now I feel everyone should have, I would do whatever I could to make them happen. As an only child, getting my mother to be okay with my going to school at the University of Iowa which is only three and a half hours away was a task itself.  So when I first told my mom I was thinking about studying abroad in Europe, a completely different continent, she wasn’t so happy with the idea. It took a lot of convincing but eventually she came around to the idea that this would be an amazing experience that I would be able to talk about for a lifetime.

During my time in Spain I got to meet some amazing people. People who I never thought I’d meet. People constantly surprised me with how kind and nice they were. Being the first in my family to have the opportunity to do this really is a blessing I can never be thankful enough to have had.

All my best,

Andres Alcala