Kayla studied in the Dominican Republic on the CIEE: Santiago, Dominican Republic, Liberal Arts Program.
What was it about your program specifically that fit your personal goals over other programs?
My program specifically allowed me to be extremely immersed in the host culture, and the people around me such as my host parents did not speak any English whatsoever so it allowed me to really improve my conversational Spanish which was my main personal goal. In addition I wanted to learn more about the Dominican Republic and Dominican culture and I definitely learned a lot including dances like Bachata, Merengue, and Salsa.
How have you used the skills you learned abroad now that you are back; either in job searching, or in other activities?
I have used my Spanish conversational skills in small face to face interactions with other Spanish-speakers as well as with friends living in other Spanish-speaking countries. I joined a Latin dance team here at Penn State where I put my knowledge of Bachata, Merengue, and Salsa dances to use during practices and performances. I never thought about being on a Latin dance team before going abroad but I am in love and wish I joined sooner! I also joined the Dominican Student Association which gives me a little reminder of DR.
Did you participate in any service projects while on your program? How did that enhance your study abroad experience?
We did various service projects during my program. All of the service projects were great experiences and wonderful bonding moments for the students in my program. It gave us a chance to put all of our desires for helping others and love for the DR and Spanish to good use. We got to meet many new friends at each place we went to and formed life long bonds.
What advice would you give to outbound study abroad students to help them make the most out of their study abroad experience?
Do all that you can and do not hold back. You made a decision to go abroad which was already a bold move, so continue to make bold moves while you are abroad. You will gain much more out of the experience by continuing to step out of your comfort zone. Make friends with the locals. Do not just stay in your friend group- explore and interact with the people in your host country. These relationships are so important and memorable.