My study abroad experience was far from typical. Thanks to Covid-19 I experienced the culture and beauty of Spain through a computer screen. That being said, I had a wonderful virtual experience over the summer of 2021. I was still able to learn about the Spanish culture and language all while never leaving my girlfriend behind in Tennessee. The virtual study abroad option is something that I likely never would have considered if it had not been for these extenuating circumstances, but I found that studying abroad online is a lovely opportunity regardless if there is a pandemic preventing you from travelling or not. By far, virtual study abroad is more economical than its in person counterpart. I was able to stay with my family over the summer and attend classes in Spain at the same time. I had no travel expenses and was actually able to make money instead. I was able to keep working throughout my studies. I was even able to travel for weeks at a time while getting college credit. One week, I tuned into my classes from Florida beaches, and another week I took my classes from the mountains of North Carolina. I enjoyed the immense amount of freedom that studying abroad online allowed me.
Besides the flexibility and savings that this program provided, I also enjoyed the academic benefits provided to me. I received 12 credit hours in the span of two months thanks to the University of Nebrija in Madrid. Because of that full time semester packed into the summer, I am now able to graduate with a double major in English and Spanish, rather than only minoring in Spanish. This program also dramatically strengthened my Spanish speaking, reading, and composition skills. All the courses I took were taught completely in Spanish which led to a sense of language immersion even from my home in the States. In addition to language acquisition, I also learned about the history, culture, business and economics in Spain, as well as the contemporary Spanish novel. Overall, those classes have made me into a more well informed and cultured person with a less narrow view of the world.
My favorite part of my study abroad experience by far was my professors. It was a pleasure being taught by a wide array of fun, quirky, and very informative professors. My favorite class definitely had to be The Contemporary Spanish Novel. It helped that I have a lot of interest in writing and that I am studying literature, but still this class was unique and would engage even someone who hates reading. The class was structured in a way that I had not experienced before. We alternated class sessions between instruction with our professor about the history and context of the Spanish novel and conferences. These conferences are what made the course unique. Two times each week a different individual working in the creative writing industry would lecture on a topic close to them. We were taught by screenwriters, publishers, and various other authors working in Spain today. It was an incredible experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I highly recommend studying abroad, even if you have to do it virtually.
Samuel Lennon is majoring in English (Creative Writing) and Spanish and participated in a summer 2021 virtual abroad in Spain through CIS Abroad. Samuel had the following to say about (virtual) study abroad, “Make this happen! Find a way to experience another culture and study abroad, even if you have to do it virtually.”