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Study Abroad Experiences

Briana Perdomo

Brianna Perdomo–Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain

My name is Brianna Perdomo and I spent this past June studying abroad in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain. This study abroad experience has truly enhanced not only my studies but my overall outlook on my education.

I am currently beginning my senior year of my undergraduate career majoring in Speech and Hearing Sciences and minoring in both Spanish and Education. My goal is to go on to graduate school next fall to receive my Speech Pathology license as well as a Bilingual certificate. Ultimately, I want to become a Bilingual Speech Pathologist. I am very passionate about giving children and their parents who may not speak English an equal opportunity in their education and making sure that I can provide speech therapy in both English and Spanish.

Therefore, spending time studying in Spain has really given me the opportunity to perfect my speaking skills while in an environment where my Spanish communication was so crucial. While taking upper level courses such as “Don Quijote de la Mancha” and “Historia del Arte,” I was able to practice articulating my thoughts to a Spanish-speaking crowd. In addition, being immersed in a city like Madrid helped me to practice speaking practically while getting around. I truly believe that my Spanish speaking confidence level has increased as well as my vocabulary and grammar usage.

I am so fortunate to have had this great opportunity during my education. I really made the most of my experiences and feel as though I will be better prepared for my Spanish studies at the graduate level in the future. I am very excited to continue my education with Bilingual Speech Therapy.

A summer costume party

Rachana Joshi–Quebec, Canada

This summer I decided to do something I have never done before. I decided to take advantage of UB’s study abroad opportunities. I spoke with my director in the French department and came up with a plan I would not regret. I spent 3 weeks in Chicoutimi, Quebec, where I lived alone in a region foreign to me, where English was
definitely not a language you could pass by with.

I remember when I first walked into reception to pick up my name tag. One of the students helping facilitate the program instantly started speaking to me in French, and I was definitely not ready to be having conversations in French yet. His name was Mathieu, and he reassured me that it was okay and that we are all here to learn. He
also told me that by the end of the program I would be much more confident and much better in speaking French, and I’m so glad he was not wrong…. I was in class 3C, which was considered an intermediate level of French speaking skills. My teacher was really kind and very encouraging. I also thought my class was one of the best classes I have had based on the humor, teamwork and friendship. I loved them all and they did not hesitate to help one another. The class was entertaining and exactly the kind of class I would not mind waking up at 8 am for. Playing games and doing activities to learn is the best way to learn a language!

I remember walking down the streets of downtown Chicoutimi and walking into a ballet store where I spoke to a lady in French about looking for a new leotard to wear for my ballet classes back at home. There was also a small cafe in the same building where they served amazing local crepes! The cafe was called Le Petit Breton Cafe Croissant. I didn’t even realize I was speaking in French with the server there. Something about speaking in French with the locals was very invigorating, because not only did they understand what I was saying but the conversations would also contribute to helping me speak a little better….

I will have to say though, my most unforgettable experience at Chicoutimi was when I signed up for improvisation for my Tuesday activity. First, I put myself on the spot, given that I have a fear of speaking in front of an audience. Improvisation was definitely not something I could do even in English, let alone in French. I purposely signed up for it because I really wanted to take full advantage of taking risks in this new city and trying to grow as an individual. I learned not only how to make jokes in French, but I could feel my fear of public embarrassment slowly inch away as if it was never there….

Three weeks flew by quicker than ever, and after many activities, including badminton, field trips with the class, and of course making so many new friends, changed me a lot this summer. I lived in an environment where everyone was motivated to help each other out to improve each other’s French. Everyone was not only friendly but we all became a giant family. Even today, I am still in contact with many the friends I made while staying in Quebec and I will never forget them and their aid in my French acquisition. I wish that the program had never ended, and that we were all still there living together. This summer of 2017 is a summer I will never forget and I could confidently claim to be one of the best decisions of my life.

Anthony Malloni–Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain

Anthony Malloni (second from right)

This summer I participated in the Stony Brook study abroad program at the University of Alcalá in Spain. This program did a stellar job of immersing you in the Spanish culture/lifestyle. To actually live in a Spanish household makes you engage in conversation (especially when your host mom doesn’t speak English). The quaint city of Alcalá de Henares couldn’t have been a more perfect destination to be abroad. The locals were so gracious, getting around the city was a breeze, and you couldn’t escape the tapa bars! The university was located near the central plaza where all the locals gathered. Taking Spanish history classes that were taught by native professors was worth the trip alone. Then, taking class trips where those professors were the guides was phenomenal. I can’t stress how rewarding it was to have the first-hand approach to explore Madrid and witness the history that we were learning about in class. Overall, the program accomplished introducing me to a new country while strengthening my knowledge of the Spanish language.

Ashley Byczkowski–Paris, France

Chateau de Fontainebleau

Life in Paris… what can I say? C’est magnifique! Existing between the two milieus of professional and student has allowed me to access a whole new understanding of what it means to live in the City of Lights. As a student, being able to attend conferences, colloquium and “journée d’études”, in addition to auditing two classes at Paris-Sorbonne, has opened my eyes to the differences between French and American academia and has inspired many ideas for my own project and academic career. On the teaching side, spending around 13 hours a week with over 100 French and International students has given me a more global perspective on many of the issues being faced by society today. Also, it’s aided me in understanding and respecting the many cultural differences that exist amongst even such relatively similar countries as France and the United States.

My daily Parisian lifestyle of commuting to work, punching in hours at the library, and catching up with friends at cafés comes with a strange sentiment towards the touristy part of the city. The Eiffel Tower is so “out of the way”, I rarely see it! And Sacré Cœur feels almost like a day trip away! In the end however, this provides me with the opportunity to play tourist whenever I feel I’m getting too stuck in the “metro, boulot, dodo” of being a Graduate Student and Teaching Assistant. And for that, I am so grateful for the Université Paris-Diderot Exchange. It has deepened my love for the French Culture, Language and Literature and I look forward to bringing this joy and passion back with me in the Fall.

Julia Erbacher–Madrid, Spain

Madrid Cafe

My experience abroad impacted my ability to transfer the skills I learned from inside the classroom to outside in my every day interactions with the people of Madrid. Academically my skills were enhanced because I was able to connect what I was studying in class with the physical world around me. My interest in the history of Spain and its culture allowed me to ask more questions and engage in more class discussions, which has transferred back to my home university, where I am now more knowledgeable and able to offer more to a conversation among peers. My study abroad also enhanced my ability to retain new information such as new vocabulary and conjugation of verbs, along with understanding the meaning of the verb is and how it is to be used. I was able to learn some things about myself and how to make the most out of my academic practices, such as the best study habits for me. My understanding of Spanish grammar improved tremendously and has benefited my speaking, listening, reading, and interpreting skills which overall contribute to my goal of become a fluent Spanish speaker.

My two roommates and I explored the marvelous city of Granada for a weekend. We spent hours roaming the different parts of the city: shopping at the Arabian street markets, exploring the casas blancas (white houses) neighborhood, searching for the Turkish baths (which we never found), trying new pastry desserts (again-unsuccessful), and falling absolutely head over heels for La Alhambra, a palace/fortress with a charm that will take you centuries back in time and leave you in a state of reflection on man’s capabilities. Every morning we woke up with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains outside of the window, making this trip that much more spectacular and one that I will never forget!

Sarah Devlin–Salamanca, Spain

Salamanca Plaza

Studying abroad at the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain for a whole month this summer was one of the most amazing adventures of my life. Being able to experience the Spanish culture firsthand was a blessing, and having the opportunity to make connections with the professors and students from other countries was extremely rewarding. Upon my arrival in Spain, I felt extremely nervous because I was worried that even after 6 years of studying the Spanish language, I would not be capable enough to understand and speak the language in its native country. However, I quickly learned that the past 6 years had prepared me for this 4-week journey. My score on the university’s placement exam landed me in one of the superior level groups at the university, and it was then that I knew that this would be an amazing learning experience. Living in a country for an extended amount of time where English is not the primary language is incredibly eye-opening. I was fortunate enough to live with an older couple who have hosted other kids from various countries in the past, so they were extremely patient and understanding when it came to conversing. Although parting from my host family, my amazing professors, my new friends, and the beautiful university was emotional, I feel so blessed to have been able to experience the cultural and educational opportunities that the country of Spain has to offer.


Kelly Aldinger–Lima, Peru

I’ve enjoyed having a break from Western New York winters during my time here in Lima, Peru.  The first couple weeks were a bit chaotic, but things have settled down and I now feel much more at home here.

Classes have taken a while to adjust to, as they are nothing like the university lectures back home.  The teacher-student interaction is quite different, since there are usually a maximum of 4 students in my classes.  One of my favorite things about the small setting though is that is facilitates a lot of conversation between classmates.  So far, I’ve met fellow students from all around the world, including Australia, Belgium, Germany, England, Palestine, Brazil, Switzerland, Holland, and of course Peru.  The cultural exchange that happens on a daily basis is something indescribable.  I love it!

Outside of the classroom, we have lots of time to explore the area.  This past month in Peru has brought out the “foodie” in me!  Every day for lunch, we try a new restaurant.  I like ordering something completely foreign to me on the menu and then deciphering the new vocabulary once the plate arrives.  It’s been an interesting and flavorful experience trying local ingredients.  I even helped cook some meals with my host family.

Attached is a picture of a dish called “anticuchos,” which is meat from cow’s heart (so tender and tasty)!

Liam Mcmahon–Sevilla, Spain

Grenada street art

The Albaicin








I’ve attached a photo of some street art in Granada and a photo taken from the Alhambra in Granada looking down on the Albaicín, the ancient Moorish neighborhood of Granada. The photos are from my 3 day orientation in Granada before I left to start classes in Sevilla. I was stunned by the beauty of Granada and continue to be stunned by the beauty of Spain while in Sevilla!