Michael Cypher-Tierney’s STEP Post-Project Reflection

STEP Reflection:

  1. Using my STEP disbursement funds, I was able to spend six weeks studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain.  I took classes, stayed with a host family, and was able to immerse myself in Spanish language and culture to drastically improve my Spanish language skills.  Additionally, I received nine Spanish credits that will go towards my Spanish minor.
  2. Little by little, everyday, I was beginning to understand the language, culture, and history better.  I remember the first day I met my host family and how I could understand them talking to me, but when they spoke to each other, I couldn’t since they spoke so fast.  By the end of the six weeks I was able to follow along in their conversations.  This was the kind of transformation that I was hoping to see throughout this journey.  Additionally, everyday, I was immersing myself into the social norms of Spanish life.  I was developing my own identity and independence by living abroad.
  3. First, living with a host family totally facilitated my transformation.  At first, I was nervous about living with a host family because it was going to take me out of my comfort zone and challenge me in a way I’ve never been challenged before.  However, after I got accustomed to living with a host family, I realized how much of a rewarding, authentic experience it allows.  Living with a host family allowed me to be fully immersed in another culture and help me understand the language, culture, and history in an amazing way.

Secondly, attending a Spanish institution and taking classes in Spanish drastically helped in the improvement of my communication skills.  Because there were students from all around the world in my classes, all the classes were in Spanish, and I was able to meet people from all around the world.  Also, attending Spain’s oldest university allowed me to gain incite into the history and culture of Spain that I might not have been able to receive at other institutions.

Lastly, the ISA program, the directors, my group, etc all pushed me to grow and get as much as I can from the experience.  My friends and I created unforgettable experiences together.  ISA provided multiple excursions and events for me to go to to expand my knowledge in an experience based way.

4. In terms of professional development and future goals, things like international experience, communication and social skills necessary for a study abroad are incredibly important for my future goals.  Having studied abroad only increases my scope of where I can work.  Now that I can speak the language much better, I can expand my job prospects to the entire Spanish speaking world.

Furthermore, the study abroad provided me with a framework of understanding differences in cultures and how that is necessary in the globalization of the 21st century in understanding and solving global problems.