As someone who loves to travel, I was ecstatic when I learned there would be a trip to Spain through Seton Hill University. A group of twenty-three students and two professors from Seton Hill and one student from Saint Vincent College visited three cities in southern Spain: Seville, Granada and Córdoba. Most of our three-week trip was spent in Córdoba, as that was where Academia Hispánica, the school with which Seton Hill collaborates, was located. Faculty offered Spanish Study in Spain and City Study: Western Cultures in Córdoba, which fulfilled the language and liberal arts requirements of the Seton Hill curriculum.
A different group of students traveled to Beijing for three weeks this past May. They studied Mandarin and participated in cultural activities at Beijing Union University. Excursions included visits to the Confucius Temple and the Great Wall. A third and final study abroad trip took place in Italy. Students visited the cities of Florence, Rome and Tuscany and took coursework in the History of Western Art and the Food and Culture of Italy.
Experiencing a Different Culture
When you study abroad, you get to experience another culture. You see how people in other parts of the world live; how some aspects are similar to our culture and how others are different. You can introduce others to your culture, too. In Córdoba, we stayed with locals in their homes so we could get the full immersion experience. I told my host mom that Americans typically eat lunch at noon and dinner at six. She was shocked, as Spaniards eat lunch at two-thirty and dinner at nine at the earliest.
"I visited a country I’ve always wanted to explore, made new friends, learned about Spain and its people and culture and felt my understanding of the Spanish language increase."
Meals are a sacred part of Spanish culture, and also of Italian culture. Marisa Valotta, a junior English - Creative Writing major, went on the trip to Italy. She noted that, “no one ever seemed to be in a hurry, especially while eating meals.” Dinner is an opportunity to relax and catch up with family and friends, and there is no rush to finish. In Seville, our group ate out for every meal, and even after we finished dinner we would stay and talk, enjoying each other’s company.
Study Through Seton Hill
Seton Hill offers trips to various countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America that can last from one week to an entire semester. Students who are apprehensive about the experience can dip their toes in by taking a one-week trip. If they enjoy the trip, they can participate in a longer trip later on. Places students have visited in the past include:
- Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Dublin, Ireland
- London, England
- Paris, France
- Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
- Cuernavaca, Mexico
- Krakow and Oswiecim, Poland
- Brest and Minsk, Belarus
When you travel abroad, you can earn college credits by taking classes. If you visit a country whose native language is not English, you can also learn a bit of a new language. Immersion is the best way to understand a new language, as you are constantly hearing it. Seton Hill can even help you acquire your passport through the Passport to the World Program.
The Experience of a Lifetime
I’ve traveled to other countries in Europe as well as Canada and the Bahamas before, but this was certainly my favorite trip. I visited a country I’ve always wanted to explore, made new friends, learned about Spain and its people and culture and felt my understanding of the Spanish language increase.
The trip to Italy was the first-time Marisa had left the United States. Visiting Italy was a top priority, as she wanted to visit the country where her father was born. “I was nervous at first," she said, "especially because I had never been out of the country before, but I’m so glad I made the decision to go.”