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Hannah Roberge: Studying abroad can be a life altering decision

Hannah Roberge: Studying abroad can be a life altering decision

As most college students begin their second semester on campus, Class of 2018 graduate Hannah Roberge will begin her first. Roberge took advantage of Colby College’s Global Entry Semester Program and traveled to Salamanca, Spain to study at the Universidad de Salamanca for her first semester of college.

While studying in Spain, Roberge took classes centered around Spanish in an effort to improve her fluency in the language and her understanding of the culture.

“I took Spanish grammar, conversation, film, history, and literature classes,” Roberge said. “At first it was very challenging to learn solely in Spanish, but my Spanish has improved dramatically. For me, it was quite difficult to adjust to speaking Spanish for up to 24 hours a day and adapting to a different schedule.”

Roberge had to adapt and to speak the language for the majority of her trip, whether it was conversing with her host family or simply ordering at a restaurant, which proved to be quite a challenge.

“It was quite nerve-wracking to start my college experience in a foreign country having to speak a different language from my own,” Roberge said.

Along with the language barrier, Roberge had to overcome some degree of culture shock, as living in Spain was nothing like what she was used to.

“The hardest part of living or studying abroad in a foreign country is adjusting to a different culture and way of life,” Roberge said.

Initially, Roberge was reluctant to study abroad for her first semester of college, and although it was difficult for her to adjust, staying in Europe gave Roberge the opportunity to experience new cultures and visit areas around the north and south of Spain, Portugal, France and Amsterdam.

“I was hesitant to study abroad, but it was a great opportunity for me,” Roberge said. “I’ve learned a lot about a new culture and have experienced something that many people do not have the opportunity to do in their first year, let alone their first semester of college.”

As Colby College’s Global Entry Semester Program provides the opportunity to travel and take classes simultaneously, participating in the program was appealing to Roberge.

“I’ve always loved to travel, and this program provided me with a semester abroad, similar to a gap year, where I could complete credits for my university and travel across Europe,” Roberge said.

Roberge may have left Spain already, but she hasn’t said goodbye to the people she met. She continues to stay in contact with many of them.

“I lived with my two host parents, their daughter, and three other long-term students studying in Salamanca,” Roberge said. “I continue to stay in contact with my host family. I wouldn’t exchange my semester abroad for the world, as I met amazing people who were studying abroad with me as well as other international students.”

According to Roberge, it can be a difficult decision to make to study abroad for the first semester of college, but it is one that can provide a great experience, foster lifelong relationships and leave fond memories.

“I highly recommend that everyone should study abroad during their first semester of college,” Roberge said. “In my experience, studying in a foreign country can be life-altering. [It] truly helps a person discover who they are and who they want to be.”