Name: Jessica Torres’14
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Study abroad semester and location: Sevilla, Spain, spring 2013.
What was your proudest/most exciting moment abroad? When I watched the FC Barcelona soccer team play in Barcelona! And when I learned the basic steps to a dance called Sevillanas at the festival “Feria de Avril en Sevilla.”
How were you able to get involved with your host culture while abroad? The program I was enrolled in, CIEE, does a great job with cultural integration. I participated in a language exchange program where I was easily able to meet and hang out with Spaniards. I was also very driven to visit museums, sports, arts, and architecture, which allowed me to ask questions or bond with my host family.
How has your study abroad experience affected your identity as a minority back at Beloit? I have intended to build relationships in outdoor settings with community service activities and other minority students. I simply feel more confident, decisive, and powerful to partake in my priorities.
Why was it important to you, as a minority student, to study abroad? I chose to study abroad because of the low representation in our group. My experiences abroad, being from a background that normally wouldn’t study abroad, led me to share my unique experiences and inspire my friends and younger cousins to do so. I think it is important for minorities to know that the opportunity is out there and it certainly is life changing.
What was the biggest challenge you faced with the study abroad experience and how were you able to overcome it? The biggest challenge for me was opening up to my host family. Never had I ever lived with a foreign family. It was difficult adapting to cultural differences in terms of values and food. Over time, I learned to develop patience, trust, openness, and interest in their daily living. I then realized how close we became and felt very fortunate for living with them.