Auburn Family

Auburn University offers many opportunities to study abroad. One student who is currently overseas with an abroad program discusses her experiences thus far and gives advice to prospective students. This student explains the advantages of studying abroad and talks about some of the experiences she did not expect.

Jen Burak is a junior in International business focusing on Spanish. Burak started taking Spanish classes in high school and decided to continue her studies at Auburn University.

Burak found out about the abroad programs in Spain during her sophomore year when a speaker came into one of her Spanish classes. Burak also did more research by visiting the website with additional information.

"I had never heard of Alcalá de Henares before, but the guy that visited our class really sold the program to me," said Burak. "Everyone always jumps to how much it costs, how may credits they're going to receive, but I was interested in what I could really take from this kind of experience."

Burak signed up for her Spain abroad program this past fall semester. Knowing Spain was going to be an entirely different experience, she wanted to room with someone she knew. Lauren Pollard, also from Auburn University, and Burak teamed up to make sure they could encounter everything together. Currently living with a Spanish family in Alcalá de Henares, Burak and Pollard have a mother, father and also a brother named Moises. Moises is a 12-year-old that is excited about having two new sisters.

"I play soccer with him a lot," said Burak. "I have played soccer my entire life and since it is the main sport over here, Moises was interested to play with an American. I don't think he expected me to actually know how to play! I did not expect to be as close with my host family as I already am."

Not only does Burak have the opportunity to live in Spain, but she only has class four days a week. Not wasting any of her spare time, Burak and her friends have had long weekends to travel to Belgium, Portugal and Spain's capital, Madrid. 

"I did not know I was going to be able to do so much traveling, but it has been indescribable," said Burak. "My friends and I are already planning trips to more places, but I am most excited about Switzerland because my dad is coming from the states to meet me there!"

The food is also something that Burak did not expect to become accustomed to. 

"I have never considered myself a picky eater, but I was a little nervous about not having all of my fast food to fall back on," said Burak. "It surprises me how much I don't even miss some American foods, but I really have enjoyed trying new things and being spontaneous even with what I eat."

Burak says that her only disadvantage with studying abroad is missing out on Auburn events and not having all of her friends with her to share the experiences. Her advice to prospective students is to focus on how an abroad program could benefit them and to not second guess making the decision.

"If your main focus is about costs, start saving early," said Burak. "Otherwise, look into a program that fits you as soon as you can because it is something that I will never forget."

Burak started a blog the day she left and invites anyone to follow her journey not just throughout Spain, but all of Europe. The descriptions, pictures and excitement that Burak writes in her blog makes it is easy to understand why she has enjoyed her time overseas.

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Tags: Abroad, Europe, programs, students, travel


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