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Postcard from Spain: Immersive learning of Spanish culture & language

Ben Orr’21 is improving his Spanish and learning in an immersive and interactive way in Alicante, Spain.


  • Name: Ben Orr’21
  • Hometown: San Francisco, CA
  • Major: Anthropology
  • Study Abroad Location: Alicante, Spain
  • Host Organization and University: CIEE Alicante & Universidad de Alicante

How is study abroad benefiting your Beloit College education?

By studying abroad in a foreign country, I am able to experience a culture other than my own. Living in Spain is not only helping me improve my Spanish speaking skills, but I am able to learn about myself and the people of Spain in an immersive and interactive way. Learning another language and having to struggle to communicate my thoughts in my non-native tongue has been a great growth experience as well. I am making connections with people from around the world, and I am broadening my perspective on the world.

How are you engaging with people and place when you’re not in the classroom?

When I’m not in the classroom or at home studying, I am spending a lot of time with my host family or with friends from my program. Many weekends I’ll join my host family and go to their quaint country home where the rest of the family meets up for lunch and family activities. Other weekends I’ll explore Alicante or the surrounding cities of Spain for a day-long adventure.

Just a few of the amazing people I met during my time abroad

Just a few of the amazing people I have met during my time abroad.

 What is your favorite place in Alicante?

One of my absolute favorite places is only about 40 minutes away from my host family’s home. My host mother and father brought me to a tea garden hidden away from tourists and the main highway. The main building is a Moroccan tea house with twisting gardens and dozens of small private areas to sit in and enjoy a large assortment of foreign and local teas. The presence of local cats and peacocks adds to the excitement of the garden.

What has been the most unexpected thing you’ve encountered while abroad?

I’ve been most surprised by the hospitality of my host family. Before arriving in Spain, I imagined that I was going to have a more formal relationship with my host mother and father, but the second I got there I was treated as their own son. I have become very close with the rest of the family as well, including the grandchildren who are in the home almost every day.

A day trip to a small coastal city named Villajoyosa

A day trip to a small coastal city named Villajoyosa.

What is a common food there? What is the best meal you’ve had abroad?

There is a diverse assortment of foods in Alicante. I personally eat a lot of rice, bread, fresh fish/seafood, and chicken, but there are many more options than that. For me, seafood paella is the best dish I’ve had (and I wish I could have it even more often!). There are also many options for vegetarians and vegans!

Ben’s advice for prospective study abroad students:

Enjoy yourself as much as possible! Time flies when you’re abroad, so make the best of your trip. Try every food at least once, spend time with your host family as much as possible (if you decide to live with one), and try and get to know your city and surrounding area really well. Your study abroad students will have a lot of things to offer, so take advantage of them.

October 30, 2019
  • Me at the top of el Castillo de Santa Bárbara

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