Study Abroad Timeline

Study Abroad requires a lot of time, effort, and money even before you leave your home country. Still, I’m sure that in a month’s time I’ll agree with all those who have gone before me that it was worth every second and cent!

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April 2009 – Since I am going to be studying abroad no less than three times, I started doing research into programs early. By April 2009, almost a year and a half before my first classes abroad, I had a rough idea of where I wanted to go. I even met with advisers early to double check the basic facts and figure out when I should get serious about applying.

November 2009 – As the application dates started getting closer, I noticed that the semester dates of the University of Navarra-Pamplona were changing. I met with my advisers to ask about doing the exchange in the fall.

February 2010 – I received word at last that I would be allowed to go to Pamplona for the fall semester. I started making preparations to be out of the country for an extended period of time, such as being sure not to renew my cell phone contract.

March 2010 – I went through the formal application process for my home university as well as to the university in Spain. All in all, I needed a resume, recommendations,  a bunch of basic information forms, a language test, a course proposal requiring a scavenger hunt of signatures, and more.

April 2010 – I received a formal letter of acceptance from the University of Navarra-Pamplona, allowing me to begin the application for my student visa. This was even more annoying than applying to the study abroad program, requiring several notarized items from my parents and others, and my situation was complicated by jurisdiction details.

May 2010 – With the help of my excellent study abroad advisers, I finally managed to apply for the visa, but there was still no official guarantee that it would be accepted. Still, I purchased plane tickets to Spain and started looking for an apartment.

July 2010 – My visa was granted and I went to Missouri to pick it up. I applied for the international student orientation and arranged bus transportation to Pamplona. Everything is now in order except living arrangements as my apartment search continues.

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Published in: on July 30, 2010 at 02:29  Leave a Comment  
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Acceptance Letter

Here is the text of my acceptance letter to the Spanish University, which I find way too exciting:

Universidad de Navarra
Facultad de Comunicación
Pamplona, 20 de abril de 2010

Estimada Miranda,

Me es grato comunicarle que ha sido resuelta favorablemente su solicitud de admisión como alumna del Programa de Intercambio en la Licenciatura de Periodismo de la Facultad de Comunicacion de la Universidad de Navarra (ESPAÑA) con efecto en el curso academico 2010-2011 que comienza el 1 de septiembre y finaliza el 18 de diciembre, con una dedicación de más de 20 horas semanales.

La efectividad de esta resolución queda condicionada a la formalización de la matrícula.

Le saluda atentamente,
Miguel García San Emeterio
Secretario Adjunto

P.S. – The seal of the school has St. George on it, killing his dragon. I had no idea he was a patron saint of the University/Region/etc… but I’m not really surprised. He’s basically the patron saint of everything, and why not? Most of the other ones are praying or playing with birds, and St. Patrick’s pretty well taken by Ireland. So that leaves St. George who gets to fight a DRAGON. Still, this seal is one of the least exciting representations of the scene I’ve ever looked at… he’s basically stepping on a Dragon delicately and poking at it with a stick.

Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 03:23  Leave a Comment  
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Why Pamplona?

The Cathedral of Pamplona, with mountains behind.

There is a very practical and logical reason why I chose to study abroad at the University of Navarra Pamplona – I have to do one of my study abroad semesters through my home university’s school of journalism, and the program in Spain is the only one not taught in English, and the main purpose of studying abroad for me is to improve my language abilities. (There was also an Argentinian option, which was tempting, but it’s an internship rather than a traditional academic experience.)

Despite this logical reasoning, I am thrilled to be going where I am going. I keep forgetting that I’ve never stepped foot in Spain before – since I’ve studied Spanish for eight years, it’s been part of my life for a long time, and the country is a big enough cultural force that even Americans can’t avoid a sense of its presence growing up. When I first thought about studying abroad there, I was torn by its internal diversity, wanting to explore each of its regions for their own individual merit. Galicia, Catalunya, Andalucia, Valencia, the interior, the islands… each with its own stunning landscapes and delicious food, many with their own secondary languages. How could I ever choose?

Pamplona, situated in the north of Spain.

I’m relieved in a way that logistics decided for me, and now I’m all enthusiasm about Pamplona, the neighboring Pyrenees, the Basque Countryside. I think the climate there will agree with me better than that of southern Spain, and I’ve always craved mountains. I’m curious about the Basque culture and social situation. The only downside is that every time I bring up the experience, for the rest of my life, I anticipate being asked the same question – “Did you see the running of the bulls?” And I won’t have, either – that takes place in the summer. Amazingly the city does still exist the rest of the year, though you wouldn’t know it from the media or guidebook coverage.

As far as the University itself is concerned, I know several current or former students there, and it sounds quite nice. It has good ratings, particularly for journalism, which is what I’ll be studying there. It also happens to be run by Opus Dei, the Christian organization which is  made out to be more than a little bit crazy in Dan Brown’s thrillers. So that should add another interesting dimension to the experience!