Studying abroad in Seville, Spain was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever partaken in! I went with a group of friends from UTD using a program called GlobalED. This program was able to set up a custom wintermester program and provided an internship that rotated students through a hospital in Seville. We got the opportunity to shadow doctors, learn about the healthcare system in another country, as well as watch surgeries! The Office of Education Abroad was so helpful in setting up a way for us to receive credits for our study abroad internship!
Besides the internship in the hospital, we also got to take an intensive Spanish course. As a pre-med students living in Texas, medical Spanish is quite essential for proper and efficient patient communication. Even learning just conversational Spanish is enough to establish a sense of rapport with your patients. I can guarantee you that at my medical school interviews, my interviewers were looking for personal growth in the candidates. This program was always a conversation starter, especially since it shows a love for learning in order to better yourself as a future doctor. What better way to do so than to learn medical Spanish in its country of origin?
My favorite part about my entire study abroad was the cultural immersion! I got to live with a host mom that took care us as if we were her own children. She cooked us home-cooked traditional meals, packed us sac lunches for school and even got us gifts for the holidays. She was the one of the sweetest and kindest soul and I’m so glad I got to meet her during my trip. Experiencing Christmas in another country was also a wonderful experience! In Spain, they celebrate 12 days of Christmas. December 25th only marks the beginning of the festivities! On January 6th, the children receive their gifts from the Three Wise Men, thus marking the end of Christmas. But before that, there are beautiful parades where the children get to submit their wishlists and candy/toys are throw into the crowds. These parades were so exhilarating! Even though I am not Catholic, I attended mass during Christmas. It was one of the most beautiful processions I have ever participated in. The Seville Cathedral was otherworldly and it is the resting place for the remains of Christopher Columbus. It was so amazing to see the way the Spanish celebrate and worship during the holidays.
During the weekends, we took the opportunity to travel to other cities within Spain. I got to go to Madrid, Barcelona and Granada. Planning the trips were kind of stressful but completely worth it! My advice is to download the expedia app before leaving the US. That way you can get airplane tickets and hotels with US Dollars rather than having to deal with the exchange rate and foreign currency charges on using cards internationally. Each city had it’s own culture, traditions and atmosphere. Each was breathtaking in it’s own way. Seville felt safe, homey and traditionally Spanish. Madrid was like the Washington DC of Spain. It was filled with city life, lights and historical monuments/museums. Barcelona didn’t even feel like Spain anymore. They spoke Catalan and it was so artistically metropolitan. And Granada was a predominantly Arabian area with a lot of Moorish Empire influence still present. We tried to maximize our time in Spain and traveled like mad women. My feet were pretty much destroyed after the whole ordeal, but I can not emphasize enough how worthwhile each trip was. From the museums in Madrid to Park Guel in Barcelona to the underground Arabic spa in Granada, everything was life changing from start to finish.
If you get the chance, please study abroad! It is so eye-opening. If you choose to go to Spain, I highly suggest doing so in the winter. You’ll get to see the holidays and can even go skiing in the Sierra Nevadas. The summers can get up to 120 degrees so be aware! Take advantage of scholarships provided by the Study Abroad Office and have fun!
– Carolyn Nguyen, Independent Study/Third-Party Program, Fall 2017