This being my first blog post and all, I thought I would keep it simple. I don’t consider myself too creative, so I thought I would just stick to the cue cards. My name is Tori Griffiths and I am a senior studying Communication Studies with a double minor in mathematics and Spanish. I will be spending my final semester in Sevilla, Spain, finishing up my Spanish minor.
Why did I choose to study abroad? Well, my father is a pilot, so I have had the opportunity to travel to over 13 countries. However, I have always wanted to be a local.
What factors played into my decision? As an out of state recipient of the Presidential scholarship, my choice to study abroad is actually cheaper than attending UA in Tuscaloosa. See, in Tuscaloosa, the scholarship only covers tuition. But abroad, the scholarship covers the cost of the program (which includes food, housing, tuition, and in my case, some excursions).
What key things did I have to consider before deciding to go abroad? Seeing as I chose to study abroad my final semester of college, I had to take my graduation into serious considerations. This was more that a couple looks at Degree Works, folks. This was multiple meetings with the heads of multiple departments, advisors, etc. all verifying that I can, in fact, graduate upon my return. I also had to consider the fact that even with all that, something could fall through; with this in mind, I decided that this experience was still worth it.
How are you preparing to go abroad? Simply put, I am reading everything and checking it twice. Pre-departure packets, CIS emails, letters from my host university, all of it. While I have travelled to over 15 countries before, I am not so arrogant as to think that those short-term trips have in any way full-prepared me for all that I need to know to live a semester abroad. In addition, I have spent many hours in conversation with previous study-abroad students (whether over the phone, email, or at coffee) to hopefully avoid the common pitfalls of the American student living overseas.
What are you doing physically, mentally, emotionally to plan for your experience? Physically, I have gradually changed my workout routine to match what will be most accessible in Spain. (For me, this means running, as my main exercise in Sevilla will be running the Guadalquivir River). Mentally, I am accepting the fact that I will be unable to articulate myself well, and many times will be left misunderstood. Emotionally, I am leaning on my prior international experience to know what to expect regarding culture shock and missing home.
What items are you carrying with you in your suitcase? Ah, the carry-on, what a great question. I always find that the key to a good carry-on is variety. Besides the required documents (passport, insurance card, etc.) and my other pertinents (phone, laptop, chargers, etc.) I will have: my iPod classic, Las Crónicas de Narnia, dried apricots and dates, my bilingual Bible, a journal, pens and pencils, Nalgene bottle, neck pillow, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, extra-battery charge stick, Airborne immunity chewables, prescription medication, and a change of clothes. Oh, and a pack of gum. I am ALWAYS wanting gum when I travel.