Betsy Claunch is a junior majoring in Polymer and Fiber Engineering
and last summer she took a month long trip to Pamplona, Spain to study abroad. This was not just an ordinary study abroad program coordinated by Auburn University. In fact, her experience was unlike any other because it was the first time her summer program, called Engineering, Technology, and Society-Spain ever took place.
Nick Conrad is the program coordinator who organized the study abroad trip. He gave Claunch and ten other South Eastern Conference (SEC) students the chance to specifically study various topics about engineering including sustainability and renewable energy as well as the Spanish language.
According to Annie Gilbertson’s article, AU Engineering Goes Global
, “the group attended 100 Spanish lessons (five hours a day) at the Pamplona Learning Spanish Institute
; students enjoyed tours of facilities such as a wind farm and water treatment plant and discovered Spanish culture through activities like salsa dancing.”
Claunch explained that they traveled to different places in the community to visually and mentally absorb how Spaniards use their engineering knowledge and put it to use every day.
“We went to a fire station one day and a recycling plant,” Claunch said.
While the students were not in the classroom learning or touring interesting engineering facilities, they got to experience the customs of Spaniards and their daily routines. They stayed with a host family, consisting of a single mother and her son, who fed the group lunch and dinner everyday expect when the students were traveling during the weekends.
Gilbertson was told the students of Team Spain also got to experience what it was like to be an average teenager in Spain because the son of the host family toured them around the area where he lived. When the teen did this, the students did not feel as though they were tourists instead, they felt more like natives.
While in Spain, the group went to three cities besides Pamplona including: Barcelona, Bilbao and San Sebastian to gain even more cultural insight.
Because Claunch chose to participate in a study abroad program, she received six credit hours for her month long learning experience. The hours were approved by Auburn University and helped her complete some of the necessary requirements to her engineering degree.
“I had a lot of fun, it was a great experience,” Claunch said.
Over all the program was successful and it gave a big advantage to the engineering students who took part in the trip. They got to experience what another cultures does, how Spain is going ‘green’, and it provided them with ideas of what they may able to change in the United States after they graduate with their engineering degrees.