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Michelle L Miles

Michelle L Miles

Michelle L Miles

Study Abroad Destination
Universidad de Burgos, Spain
Fall 2005

After being chosen by the selection committee to study abroad in the Burgos Study Program I was ecstatic! However I did not realize what I was really getting myself in to. Prior to leaving Western Michigan University the program advisors held a number of informational meetings to educate us on what to expect in the north of Spain, our living options and our schooling. It all sounded wonderful but, was it too good to be true?

When we first arrived in Burgos we were immediately paired with our host families and sent on our respective ways. My host family was a single woman who had two grown children and a wonderful flat near the heart of the city center. We immediately hit it off, though my Spanish was semi-fluent at best and she spoke no English. Having been a seasoned host parent she knew just what to do to make me comfortable and encouraged me to run errands, shop and socialize with her friends to acclimate with the community.

After the first day we started classes right away. For the first week or so our WMU advisor was in the city to insure we adjusted well and learned our way around the city a bit before she returned to the U.S. Our new professors were extremely knowledgeable in their subject areas and we were exposed to a variety of subjects that we would have never been exposed to through the Spanish Department at Western. Just like any normal semester there were academic challenges to overcome but the goals were not unobtainable.

Michelle Miles cards
Kelly, Candice, Linda and I take advantage of the photo opportunities while on a Saturday group outing.

On the weekends, we had a variety of pre-arraigned outings on either Fridays or Saturdays to introduce us to different aspects of the Spanish culture. Although not every outing was spectacular, I am very glad I participated on all of them, to experience things I would have otherwise not have been exposed to.
On these shorter weekends we tried to visit nearby cities on day trips or take advantage of the nightlife and shopping offered in Burgos.

During long weekends, almost everyone traveled as much as possible. Our trusty travel books served us well as hostels and pensions became our second homes. I quickly found that our host families were a valuable source of advice on where to travel and what to see, which I found very helpful.

The best thing I about my study abroad trip was the experience I had living submersed in the Spanish culture. The confidence I gained in my Spanish-speaking abilities and the people I met are all unforgettable. Would I recommend it to someone? Absolutely! Would I do it all over again? In a heart beat.