Study abroad is a life-changing experience, and our program alumni are living proof that the decisions you make abroad can influence where life takes you after graduation. We love hearing from our alumni about how their time abroad has shaped their lives, so we reconnected with some alumni to chat about their study abroad experiences and where they are now. Keep reading to hear from Kennedy, a USAC San Sebastián alumna.
Kennedy, who graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with degrees in Public Health and Spanish, studied abroad in San Sebastián, Spain to continue her pursuit of language fluency in order to better prepare herself for a career in the medical field.
Why did you decide to study abroad? Why did you choose your program?
I had grown up with a love for travel, and each place I visited only fueled my desire to see more of the world! I knew since I began college that I wanted to study abroad, and chose Spain because I knew I wanted to build on my Spanish language background. I ultimately chose San Sebastián because it looked beautiful and was very highly recommended by all alumni of the program. I am also a huge lover of both mountains and the beach, and San Sebastián really has the best of both!
How did study abroad fit into your academic and professional goals?
I had been pursuing a career in healthcare from the beginning of college and knew how beneficial it would be for me to be able to communicate with my future patients in various languages. Completing a Spanish major allowed me to become proficient in the “book” sense; however, actually living in a Spanish-speaking country, especially with a Spanish host family, allowed me to become fluent.
When did you graduate? What are you doing now?
I graduated from UNR in May 2019 and began my Physician Assistant masters program at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass. later that year. I will graduate in January 2022.
Looking back, how did study abroad play a role in getting you to where you are now?
Studying abroad was the first time I stepped outside of my comfort zone and was able to experience so many unfamiliar cultures and people.
Interacting with natives from the various countries we traveled to helped solidify my desire to complete my Spanish major and ultimately solidify my career goals. With our own country’s growing Spanish-speaking population, I know studying abroad prepared me to be a better future healthcare provider.
Why do you think international education is important?
I think international education is such a valuable experience because you are really thrown into a completely different way of life and are forced to adapt! Interacting with individuals from many different backgrounds and fully immersing yourself in another countries’ way of life prepares you for any field in a way that nothing else can. There are SO many amazing and fun opportunities during your time abroad, and I found the more I tried new things and embraced even the small challenges, the more perspective and appreciation I came home with.
What was your favorite class you took while studying abroad?
Every one of my classes and instructors were wonderful so it is hard to choose a favorite, but the surfing class was so much fun and something I’ll never forget! The instructors were so great and laidback, and we all had so much fun cheering each other on.
Do you plan on returning to your host city? If not, where do you plan on traveling next?
The day I left San Sebastián to go back home I already missed it, so my sister and I traveled back the following year. We stayed with my host family (who I am still in touch with!), and we had the best time showing her all of the reasons it is such a special place.
Is there any advice you would give to students interested in studying abroad?
My advice to anyone interested in studying abroad is do not hesitate! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore a different part of the world, make lifelong friends, experience unfamiliar cultures, and have some of the most fun and rewarding months of your life.