Erik Dove is a junior at Oregon State University, pursuing a degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry and Spanish. He is an International Ambassadors for the office of International Degree and Education Abroad. Erik studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain, through API.
I have many fond memories of the summer I spent studying in Spain: relaxing on the beaches of San Sebastian; enjoying tapas in La Plaza Mayor in Salamanca; hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains in the north of the country; my time in Spain was entirely unforgettable. However, I came back to the states with more than pictures, souvenirs, and memories; my experiences abroad contributed to an overall change in my academic and personal goals and gave me the opportunity to experience a culture much different than my own.
I chose to study abroad because I wanted to increase my Spanish language proficiency. Living with a host family not only gave me this opportunity, but also exposed me to various aspects of Spanish culture. I experienced the value placed on socializing through observing my host family’s nightly outings to enjoy food and drinks with their friends. I was exposed to differences like the size of meals (small breakfast, large lunch, late-night medium sized dinner) and enjoyed the food-induced lethargy of the afternoon siesta. These experiences accustomed me to the cultural differences between the United States and Spain, and I came to appreciate the distinct aspects of Spanish life.
Throughout my experiences in Spain, I couldn’t help but think about how culture-specific aspects of life function in cross-cultural communication. Since my goal is to become a physician, I was intrigued as to how aspects of different cultures come into play in doctor-patient interactions. My experiences abroad inspired me to incorporate elements of culture, language and communication to my existing goal of becoming a physician. When I returned to Oregon State, I applied to the International Degree program to add an international dimension to my studies of Biology and pre-medicine.
As a whole, studying abroad was an invaluable and life-changing experience that enhanced my academic goals and inspired me to pursue international education as a secondary academic focus. I developed an appreciation for differences in cultures and an interest in how these differences affect interactions between people of different backgrounds. My study abroad experience in Spain has become a foundation for my academic and career goals, and has given me the drive to develop cultural knowledge and language proficiency to internationalize my education.