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Student Stories from Abroad

Heather Phelps

Name / Class Year: Heather Phelps, 2011

Where and when did you study abroad? Valencia, Spain. Spring 2010

What (if any) classes did you take while abroad that counted towards the English major? I did not take any classes that specifically counted towards my English major. I minored in Spanish, so my courses overseas counted toward that. However, I did take a class about "Don Quixote" that served as my literature course for that semester. While the classwork was done in Spanish, we often supplemented with English versions of the text and analyzed the book for various literary devices and techniques.

Why was your experience abroad important to you as an English major? Even though my experience was primarily focused on my Spanish development, I still think that it played a major role in my development as an English major as well. It gave me the opportunity to read, learn, and think about texts from different languages and cultures, which ultimately helped strengthen my skills in English literature when I returned to the U.S. I was also involved in a very rigorous academic program while I was overseas, challenging me to not only think critically, but to do so in another language. This experience helped me to further develop my skills in analyzing texts and allowed me to look at literature in a whole new light.

Any advice/insights you'd offer to prospective or current English majors regarding study abroad? I would recommend the study abroad experience to ANYONE. Not only did it help me grow academically, but personally as well. I learned new information not only in my classrooms, but my host family's home, the streets of Valencia, and countries across Europe. I also gained a new sense of independence that I had never had before, and that was truly a priceless reward. When it comes to selecting a place to go, be sure to do your research. It seems like a lot of English majors think that they can only study in countries that speak English like England or Ireland. Those places are wonderful and very beneficial for the major, but don't feel like you're limited to them. I was nervous that I wasn't going to be able to go to Spain because of my major, or that it would set me back in my literature courses, but that wasn't the case at all. In fact, I think going to a country that spoke a primary language other than English was even more beneficial for my major and helped me to expand my horizons.

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