Student vows to push herself after trip to Spain

IUS Horizon

Sarah Yeager, accounting junior, is a supplemental instructor in Spanish and also visited Spain this summer through the IU Study Abroad Program.

Sarah Yeager, accounting junior, traveled to Spain during the summer with a group of 30 students from various IU campuses.

Yeager began looking into Spain because she is pursuing a minor in Spanish.

She said she read about the study abroad and considered it an amazing opportunity.

Yeager said the trip turned out to be an experience of a lifetime.

“Everyone said it was the best way to cement your learning and apply everything that you had learned in class,” she said.

Yeager said she always saw the Studying Abroad Program as being out of reach for her. However, it was relatively easy to find a program and receive the necessary scholarships.

“We have a lot more opportunities than you would think,” Yeager said.

Yeager visited Salamanca, Spain for six weeks. She and a roommate, Elizabeth Udeuhi, speech junior at IU Bloomington, stayed in the home of a Spanish
señora, Maria Carmen.

“She fed us, and she could only speak Spanish to us,” Yeager said. “She was like a mom to us, she would take care of us when we weren’t feeling well, tell us to go out and party and tell us to study. She helped us to be more immersed in the culture.”

Udeuhi said she agreed their Spanish señora was very accommodating and enhanced their experience in Spain.

“She treated us like her children and acted like a mother to us, which helped us to feel more at home in a foreign country,” Udeuhi said.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the trip, Yeager said, was being in Spain for the World Cup when Spain won.

“It was pretty awesome,” she said. “We bought Spanish jerseys and would get painted up for the games.”

Yeager said she and Udeuhi would watch the game in the city square or behind the supermarket on gigantic televisions

“Everyone would be out in the streets for hours, just yelling and screaming and dancing and cars would be honking until 5 a.m.,” she said.

Udeuhi said they were screaming and dancing in the streets.

“We were singing ‘Yo soy Espanol,’” Udeuhi said. “It is a chant they sing over there. It means ‘I am Spanish.’ Pride was seeping out of everyone’s pores. Everyone was just so happy to be Spanish.”

Yeager said taking part in the celebration made her feel like she was a part of the community.

“It felt like we were bonding with them because we were all celebrating the same thing,” she said.

Yeager said she also appreciated the simple aspects of being in Spain.

“I loved just walking around the city and seeing all the architecture,” she said. “It was so amazing. Everything was so old.”

She also said it was nice to walk at night because many of the old buildings were lit up and street performers would play music.

“It was just so European, very different from anything here,” Yeager said.

Yeager and Udeuhi said they helped each other to be more willing to step outside of the box.

“She was a go-getter and pushed me to do things I wouldn’t normally have done,” Udeuhi said.

Overall, Yeager said the trip changed the way she thinks about cultural norms.

“In the U.S., when you meet someone, you shake their hand,” Yeager said. “In Spain, you kiss them on each cheek.”

Yeager said she thought it was different but realized it was a cultural difference. Yeager also said being an American student in a foreign country has allowed to her to feel empathy for international students who are studying in the United States.

“At first, I was so overwhelmed and the culture, it was so different,” Yeager said. “Now I feel more empathetic toward the people who come here because I understand what they are feeling.”

Yeager said studying abroad has driven her to make the most out of each day — something she said she learned while in Spain.

“Being in Spain made me enjoy each day more because I knew I had a limited amount of time there so I wanted to see everything, absorb everything about the culture I could,” Yeager said.

Yeager said she is going to try to experience everything thing she can each day.

“It challenges me and stretches me so I’m trying to keep that attitude even when I’m home,” she said.