This week, we look at the initial experiences of three of our ACCENT Community College Scholarship recipients, each of them experiencing a new city and a new culture. Join Charley Hunter, Jose Vazquez,and Elizabeth Snyder as they embark on life-changing adventures abroad!
Santa Barbara City College
Art History and Architecture Summer in Paris 2018
These past couple of weeks in Paris have been extraordinary, beyond anything I expected before embarking on this journey. Although we arrived at the peak of a heatwave, the constant sweating has been totally worth it, the historical beauty and culture leaving me utterly amazed. Within the first couple days of the program, I had already grown so close with my roommates, one of them an old childhood friend that I got to reconnect with. We’ve shared tons of stories, bringing laughter and tears, forming incredible bonds with one another. The experiences we’ve had so far, getting completely lost on the métro, having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower, or people-watching at the parks or along the Seine, are times that will be unforgettable. Upon first arriving, I realized just how American we all were, in that our high vocal volume and body language led each of us to get a few stares and whispers on the métro or along the sidewalk. Over the next few days, I learned to tone down my speech and gestures when having a conversation and to keep the people-watching to a minimum, especially on the métro. It’s crazy the amount of unwritten rules there are to learn; where to look and not look, how to act and not act in public, what smiling can lead to, etc. But we are all getting used to the different behavior, although it was challenging to start with. In our free time, we try to get as many croissants, sandwiches, or juicy fruits from the market as we can manage, each more delicious than the last. We have visited tons of museums, chateaux, or hôtels already (at least once a day!), my favorites so far being the lily pads and ponds at Jardins de Monet in Giverny and the bike rides at the beautiful gardens in Versailles. The fact that I am able to see the works of Delacroix or Manet in person, hours after discussing them in a lecture is probably the coolest thing ever as an art history student. Standing inches away from Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa or David’s Oath of the Horatii just after learning the historical background is one of the best opportunities I can gain as a student, and I know in the upcoming last weeks, it will continue to get better. I have gained so much knowledge and experience here in the city of Paris so far, from my instructor, classmates, and others. I know the upcoming opportunities will only help me grow as a student and person in the last weeks approaching.
El Camino College
Summer in Madrid 2018
I have been in Spain for two weeks and it still doesn’t feel real! So far my experience in Spain has exceeded my expectations. I was coming to Spain with an open mind, but blind, not really knowing what to expect. My first few days I started building close relationships with other individuals in the ACCENT Madrid program and I can wholeheartedly say that they have become like a second family, which in turn has made the trip a much better experience. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed with the metro system because this was going to be my first time using this type of transportation, but after a few days of being in Madrid I adjusted to this way of life and now I enjoy taking a random metro line and getting lost around the beautiful city. Although I am a stranger in this city, it feels like home and I feel safe wandering alone or with friends. On top of the beautiful architecture and history in Spain, one of the things I have appreciated most is the fact that it gets dark really late. This makes the days feel long and I can really take advantage of the amount of activities I can do throughout the day, like visiting a museum, eating tapas, or taking a stroll through Parque del Buen Retiro. In just two weeks, I have fallen in love with Madrid and have even contemplated the possibility of someday living here. I look forward to the adventures that lie ahead and the life-long memories that will be created in such great company. If you are reading this and have ever thought about studying abroad, don’t think too much— just do it because it’s an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. A special thanks to ACCENT Madrid for accommodating us and showing us a wonderful time!
Orange Coast College
Summer in Florence 2018
Two weeks ago, I embarked on a study abroad trip with the goal to improve my Italian. My sister and I are among the only members in my Italian family to speak only English; my mother thought that speaking English to us would help us perform well in school. Although I did end up an English major—to both the delight and envy of my mother—I have always wanted to pursue fluency in the Italian language in order to feel closer to my family. Fortuitously, the ACCENT program in Florence has allowed me to not only immerse myself in the Italian language, but in the culture as well.
My first weekend in Italy was full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, as cliché as the phrase may be. I practiced my Italian as I traversed the train station in Florence, bought smoothies on the beach in Viareggio, and enjoyed a gelato on the coast of Cinque Terre. I strongly feel that exploring Italy has increased my confidence in myself both as a traveler and an Italian speaker.
After my first free weekend, I started classes at the Leonardo Da Vinci School in Florence. But, the fun and immersive experiences didn’t end with the start of the school week. ACCENT has allowed me to participate in a number of unique tours and sightseeing opportunities that I would not be able to do otherwise. For example, I took a tour of Santa Croce just yesterday that not only showcased the famous resting places of Michelangelo and Galileo Galilei, but also the history of the area. Our tour guide even showed us his favorite gelateria; every student on the tour got a scoop, courtesy of ACCENT.
It’s the balance between sightseeing, education, and immersion that makes the ACCENT program special. I can’t wait to show off my new skills in Italian at home—especially because of all the pictures and souvenirs that I’ll have to talk about!
ACCENT is proud to support the Community College Scholarship as part of our commitment pledge to IIE Generation Study Abroad, a nationwide effort to help more U.S. students gain international experience through study abroad programs.
Open enrollment programs with ACCENT allow students of all educational and financial backgrounds to study abroad. Find a program that works best for you at: http://accentintl.com/find-a-program/. To learn more about the ACCENT Community College Scholarship, please visit: https://accentintl.com/participant-information/accentscholarship/.