When I began my search for a place to help me continue my education beyond an undergraduate degree, I wanted a program that met my specific needs as a Spanish teacher. I am going to begin the three-year UNISSIST program this summer in Santiago de Compostela, Spain because I discovered that this program is an ideal fit for me, both personally and professionally. The study abroad component will only further establish my belief that study abroad can change a person.
This program is primarily fulfilling on a personal level. I was able to study abroad for a month during college by traveling to Costa Rica; it was one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences I have ever had. While the process of traveling can be a headache, the experiences I had once I arrived in Costa Rica will never be forgotten. I can only anticipate the same will happen in Spain, perhaps even to a greater degree than my previous experience, because my experience will be twice as long. One of my greatest passions is speaking Spanish and learning about those who live in cultures where Spanish is a major language, and this program promises to benefit me in many ways. My previous experience with Spanish speakers and Spanish-speaking cultures has been limited to those from Mexico, Central America, and South America. After my experience in Spain, I know I will possess more knowledge of the varieties of Spanish, will become familiar with Galician-Spanish culture, will gain even more confidence in communicating in my second language, and of course, I will feel an increased amount of empathy and understanding of other cultures after living for two months within somewhere foreign to me.
Furthermore, UNISSIST promises to meet my academic and professional requirements. I possess an undergraduate degree in Spanish, but wish to obtain a graduate one in the subject as well. When I think of graduate level coursework, I anticipate extending and deepening my understanding of vocabulary, grammar, and culture. The fact that I will discover this academic knowledge in a target language culture will bring extra significance for me, as I will have a more immediate and real-world opportunity to apply my knowledge. This is especially meaningful for me as a Spanish teacher, whose task is to impart knowledge of the language using real-world applications. Possessing a Master's in Spanish will enable me to teach upper levels of high school spanish for double credit, my ideal position as an educator.
Ultimately, my participation in this program will further my present belief that study abroad is an invaluable way to build language and cultural skills, and I would promote study abroad in my personal beliefs and relationships even if I had never had this opportunity to experience it again. I consider myself a positive, encouraging person, and would love to be there for my fellow participants in the experience. In my personal life, I encourage anyone who considers study abroad as an option, as short or as long as an experience as a person is able to have. I would do anything formally required of me with enthusiasm to share my experiences.
As the weeks fly by taking me closer to my departure for Spain, I anticipate the new knowledge and experiences that I will be able to share after my first summer. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to attend this unique program, and would gladly share my experiences in order to promote study abroad.