Students reflect on their studies abroad


Jade Poynter enjoys the first day in Oviedo, Spain with her friends. She is directly in the middle with sunglasses. Photo by Jade Poynter.

After a summer of being immersed in a different language, culture and home, senior Emma Arndt describes her venture to Viña del Mar, Chile as a memorable experience that helped her develop her Spanish skills.

“It was more than I could have hoped for. I learned a lot about Spanish and about myself. It changed a lot for me,” Arndt said.

Through the IU Honors program, Arndt spent the summer in the mountains alongside the ocean with another IU Honors student and her host family, the Sanhuezas which consisted of a mother, father, and 2 daughters. During her stay, she spent time volunteering with Action Gusto by cleaning up a local beach, assisting in painting a mural on a building in the city. She also helped scrape rust off of the fences surrounding a home that assists people with Downs syndrome. Aside from volunteering, she was particularly excited to be present while Chile hosted and won the Copa America, which is an annual South American soccer tournament. With events such as this, Arndt was thrilled by the adventure of truly becoming a part of the culture in Chile.

Senior Brook Rigney traveled northeast of Madrid to a city called León. The culture shock took effect in almost all aspects of her daily life. She attended a school with all Spanish classes including, literature, grammar y culture.  During her stay she visited various landmarks and attractions in Spain. She visited castles, palaces, and forts. Rigney stayed in an apartment with a host family that included a mother, sister, brother, and a partner from her group from the US.

“People over there have a lot more respect for people,  animals, and nature, “ said Rigney.

Meeting a new family, new places and new people all while speaking Spanish was an aspect of traveling to a new country for the summer. Senior Jade Poynter traveled to a different city in Spain than Rigney and had a whole different set of memories and experiences.

According to Poynter everything changed in a second once she reached Spain. Her host family consisted  of a mom, an aunt an uncle a dad, a cousin and her roommate.

One of her favorite events with her new family was the festival of San Juan which celebrates the coming of summer. Rigney said that she and her family had huge bonfires while people were singing and cooking out food. Then everyone had to make a wish and throw it in the fire.

“I wished that everyone at my home was good, and that my family would have good health for the year.”

Senior Danisha McNary went to France this summer in hopes of learning more French and making new friends. McNary lived with a single host mom and a roommate. While she was in France, she attended classes and became friends with new people that she still keeps in contact with today. While McNary was excited to come home, she was also really sad to leave since she had gotten used to the culture in France.

Senior Zak Brite flew from Chicago to Madrid on an 8 ½ hour flight with other people in the same program. He lived with a host family who had been a part of the program before, and he said they were super understanding when he arrived at their home.

He attended school as well and took four classes, which consisted of linguistics, grammar, culture and literature. Brite thought that one of the hardest things to adjust to in Spain was how late they eat. He would have to wait until 9:30 pm to eat dinner, however they eat 4 meals a day, and breakfast is just a snack.

“[the experience] was unforgettable, it really put the world into perspective for me,” Brite said.

The IU Honors program allowed these five students to be immersed in new countries filled with new languages, people and cultures.Though each student had a different journey, they all learned a new language while having an experience they will never forget.