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Student Spotlight

Jaclyn Provencher
Chile Summer & Fall 2012
Spanish & Global Cultures Major; Latin American Studies Minor
jprovencher14@gmail.com

"PLEASE study abroad!! It was the best experience of my college career."

"I lived with a home-stay, took all university classes in Spanish, and had an internship in Spanish. My main goal was to improve my Spanish, and the fact that I spoke probably 80-90% Spanish everyday greatly helped me."

"If you have time, stay a year. Half a year was not enough for me, so I recommend to go, go, go, and stay as long as you can and absorb as much as you can."

Why did you choose your particular study abroad program/location?
I chose to study abroad in Santiago, Chile because I didn't know anything about the country. I knew that I wanted to study in a Spanish-speaking country, and I figured that I would have a better experience if I went somewhere where most students don't go. I didn't want to look at peoples' pictures from Spain and then see all the same sights they saw; I wanted something new, exciting, and unknown. 
 
What types of activities were you involved in while abroad that were meaningful for your learning?
The program in Chile was an immersion program, meaning that there was a 3 week ILP (intensive language program) at the start of the program, I lived with a home-stay, took all university classes in Spanish, and had an internship in Spanish. My main goal was to improve my Spanish, and the fact that I spoke probably 80-90% Spanish everyday greatly helped me. I had an internship teaching English to elementary and high school boys and had a great experience that taught me a lot about the way foreigners see my own country and the level of political involvement that young students have compared to the students in the US. My homestay family was amazing and even included me in one of their family trips to Argentina; I still keep in contact with my host mom and brother and I talk to them about once a week.
 
How have you changed or what have you learned due to studying abroad?
Studying abroad changed the way that I see myself and the way I see the United States. I was able to talk to many different people and gain an understanding of the way in which our country is viewed, both negatively and positively, from abroad. Also, my host mom changed me greatly. When I arrived, I noticed that she didn't own a microwave, but I soon learned that many people cook all their meals and eat a lot healthier that I am used to seeing in the States. Since I have returned, I have been a lot more interested in cooking and eating healthy; I'm now excited to cook dinner and I rarely eat out. 
 
What are you doing now as a result of studying abroad?
As a result of studying abroad, I am now a peer mentor for a Spanish student studying abroad in Irvine and I love to get to know new people. I am also the co-president of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi, and I try to promote the Spanish language and culture.    
 
What advice would you give to a student considering studying abroad?
PLEASE study abroad!! It was the best experience of my college career. I'm not going to tell anyone that it was always the best, because honestly sometimes it sucked being away from home, or getting sick, and being lost in a new city, but all the great experiences and friendships overshadow the bad times. If you have time, stay a year. Half a year was not enough for me, so I recommend to go, go, go, and stay as long as you can and absorb as much as you can. Avoid the bars where all the exchange student go, discover places where locals eat and play sports and travel as much as you possibly can to take advantage of the precious time you have in an unknown land. And lastly, but probably most importantly, learn or perfect a language that isn't your first language. Put yourself out of your comfort zone and learn a new language or perfect one that you've been learning already. And take lots of pictures! :) 

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