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Study Abroad: Brianna Darnell

Brianna Darnell

Psychology Major with Biology and Spanish minors

Class of 2018


Where did you go?

I went to Valencia, Spain which on the east coast of Spain. I lived with a host family, I had a host mom and a host dad and an American roommate from Ohio State University. There were 40 American students in my program from around the county, we went to a variety of universities in Valencia. My host family was a Spanish speaking family. I took four Spanish courses when I was abroad and that fulfilled my final requirement I needed to finish my Spanish minor. There were no other Grove City students in my program, but that is rare because you can find both. I lived a 10-minute walk from the beach. I attended the University of Valencia.

What made you study abroad?

One of the big reasons was to practice my Spanish, I’ve always known I want to go to a Spanish speaking country. I love traveling and I’ve never been to Europe so I’ve always wanted go to. In college, your life is pretty flexible so I wanted to take opportunity of something the school offered. I wanted to experience the lifestyle in a long term situation, not just a short vacation.

What was your favorite memory from your trip?

Every Sunday, my host parents would take me out to get tapas because it was a time when families spend time with each other and be with each other. We would go to a restaurant and they would most likely know the owner, and we would sit down, order and three hours later we would still be there. In those three hours, we’d talk to the owners of the restaurants, they’d ask about my life in America and I’d learn about their lives growing up there. It was a great time bonding with them because at the best of the trip they said they saw me as one of their own children and that was a great end to studying abroad.

How were the classes?

I took one language class and three culture classes and those classes all contributed to my minor requirements. The classes were all taught in Spanish, but that was just because of my area of study. The schooling there had a very light schedule. I had school four days a week, so I had three-day weekend. I had a fair amount of homework assignments, but nothing was too time consuming. My professors worked at a pace that everyone could keep up with, and if you needed help, they would sit down with you and work on assignments, but because the work wasn’t too time consuming most of my language learning was outside the classroom because I could go outside and make friends and talk to Spanish speakers. It was important because I learned more about Spanish than I ever could. I didn’t even know they had a civil war. Some of the best parts was when Easter happened, my Latin culture professor took us out and got us Easter candies that were traditional to the holiday season. My Spanish culture professor took us to a lot of museums located in Valencia. We learned so much in exploring the city and seeing the options that city had for us. It was great to have to have opportunities with the professor inside the classroom, but also to have them take us out of the classroom.

What was the social life like?

My program was really good about hosting events for all the American students to grow close together and bond. They took us on trips around Spain, so I traveled with people I knew. I had classes with 25 of them so I became close to them. After a couple weeks we’d start to hang outside the LE, we’d play soccer together, and go to the beach together. These people became my closest friends. It was nice to be friends with them because they really wanted to share their culture with us. They would take us to Valenica soccer games, they’d invite us to paella parties, which were parties where we sent to someone’s house cooked paella for six hours and shared stories. It was a good time to spend time with people. They showed us parts of the city that tourists that we’d never go to. What I loved most about having Spanish friends it is that you’d see them every day, we’d go to a café after class and sit there for an hour or two before dinner. We would go to surrounding villages by trains. Some of my friends were not English speakers, so that helped my Spanish immensely to be able to get closer to people. I made connections there that will last a lifetime. I will definitely be going back sometime to visit them.

What advice would you give someone who is debating studying abroad?

Studying abroad is a type of experience that is what you’d make it, everyone has a different experience, you can go there and not make any friends outside the Americans, you can travel every weekend, you can assimilate in the culture since you are there a long time, but it ultimately becomes what you want to get out of it. It’s a cool opportunity to go somewhere and become a person where there is no expectations by you and you have such a raw experience that will become an important part of your life.


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