Candace Jordan - one year exchange in Santander, Spain
You always hear about people studying abroad, whether it be in Spain, Chile, Germany, London or Australia, but you never really know how transforming the experience is until you, yourself, take flight on that adventure. People always talk of their experiences, describing them to be, “The best decision of my life!” but you always wonder, “Why is it so great?” You think, “I love my life here in the states where I have my family, friends and most importantly here at UNCW, the beach.” I am here to tell you today that studying abroad is everything you hear and more.
I really did not know the implications of my decision to study abroad and how it would affect my future. I have always had a passion for the Spanish language and studying in a Spanish-speaking country made the most sense to me. I considered myself to be fairly knowledgeable in the language, but boy was I ever wrong. Yes, I had the basics down, but that first time I went back to my new home away from home in Spain, was probably one of the scariest experiences of my life. My host mother did not speak any English and my Spanish was, let’s just say, “very elementary.” Every day that first month was a constant game of charades between us two. The son knew very little English, and with my deep southern accent, he was not able to understand a word I said. Needless to say, I was the quietest I had ever been in my entire life for that first month. Day by day my knowledge of the Spanish language grew tremendously.
Santander, Spain and my experiences in that town have now become a part of my life in ways I cannot describe in words. I left a little piece of my heart there and hope one day I will be back there again. What was supposed to only be three months of my life turned into nine! Not only did my Spanish improve but also my life. I learned a great deal about myself by having to speak in a different language and survive, but I also learned a great deal about the world. You think that your life is great and you have everything you need but this experience will open your eyes to a whole new world out there. Yes, I missed my family while I was there but they were always a phone call away. It did not hurt that my mother is the queen of Hallmark and she sent me a card almost every week! When you come back nothing will have changed, and the people important to you in your life will be at the airport waiting to see your smiling face and hear your stories.
I now have a Spanish family as well as my biological one here in North Carolina. I am in constant contact with them through email and mail. My little ‘niece’ is one of the main reasons that I decided to stay on for another semester. This four year old little Spanish girl taught me more Spanish than some of my professors. My favorite pastime in Spain was hanging out with her and watching Disney Movies in Spanish. I also taught her a little English through the songs of Disney! She cannot wait to be old enough to come visit so I can take her to meet all the Disney Princesses at Disneyworld! The time I spent with my family helped me improve my Spanish language skills tremendously. I think about them every second of every day and hopefully after I graduate I will move back to Spain.
I am so passionate about having studied abroad that I tell everyone I see that they should embark on this adventure too. Since my return, I interned in the International Office at UNCW and will study abroad again in May. I encourage you to come to OIP and get started on the best experience of your life!
~Candace Jordan, Communication Studies major