Non-Traditional Learning – Michelle Reers

I am a non-traditional student in my senior year working toward an international degree, a major in botany and a minor in Spanish. I have wanted to travel to other countries for as long as I can remember and, in going to Querétaro Mexico, I had hoped to improve my Spanish and learn about another culture. I received that and so much more. While participating in the six week study abroad program over the summer of 2014, I gained invaluable experience and knowledge, as well as built relationships and found the much needed confidence to communicate freely and comfortably.

I have a passion for learning the Spanish language and although I was progressing, I felt I was not advancing well in my conversational abilities. I often was uncomfortable and hesitated to speak Spanish outside of class. Taking this trip forced me to face my fears head on and I had an amazing time. Between the classroom studies, touring the country, and daily interactions with my host family, I quickly lost my shyness in speaking. I have truly come to love communicating in the language, not only in class but also in seeking out opportunities to converse with other Spanish speakers.

In addition to the classroom experience, there were all the fantastic opportunities to learn from the Mexican people directly about their culture and ways of every-day life by talking with them, going to events, and traveling to some of the many states and historic sites. Taking in the experience allowed me to discover this vibrant culture with its complicated past and beautiful, strong people. These were lessons and knowledge the classroom could not offer.  So, while there, I took every opportunity to learn or try new things as often as possible (except the fried grasshoppers!) and for it gained memories of a life time, a family in Mexico, and a new passion to travel to other areas of Latin America.

I wish to continue with my studies abroad, hoping to combine my major and minor to do research in Latin America, fulfilling my educational and travel desires simultaneously. I strongly recommend the study abroad program to anyone who desires the quality and quantity of experiences which I have received.

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