Six weeks in Spain: Rice in Country

#academics #studyabroad

This past summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Pamplona, Spain, through the Rice in Country Program, supported by the Elizabeth Lee Moody International Fund in the Humanities and the Arts and led by faculty in the Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication. It was such an amazing experience, and I’m excited to share a bit about it with you all!

A group of seven Rice students smile for a picture while sitting on a ledge in front of a view of green-covered mountains in San Juan.
One of our class’ favorite excursions was a hike in San Juan, and everyone dressed in their best colors to match the beautiful view! Not pictured was the sweat and tears it took to get to the top!
Linda is shown in the picture wearing a surgical mask, a white lab coat and blue gloves as she learns how to suture.
Here, I was learning how to suture in our Spanish Medical Apprenticeship class!

In this six-week program, I studied medical Spanish at the clinic at the University of Navarra through taking two Rice courses abroad (Spanish Medical Apprenticeship & Spanish for the Medical Professions). Spanish Medical Apprenticeship is a more experiential learning class where I got to practice intercultural communication and clinical skills in simulations and medical case studies, all entirely in Spanish! Some cool skills I gained from this class included learning how to suture, how to administer different types of medications and how to take a physical! My other class, Spanish Medical Professions, focused more on grammar and developing Spanish language proficiency, but in the context of specific medical topics, ranging from reproductive rights to differences in medical ethics in Latin American countries. Everyone in this program is super passionate about these topics, which really enhanced the diversity of perspectives in our discussions! 

A group of Rice students wearing white lab coats smile and pose for a picture with their professors.
We finished our Spanish Medical Apprenticeship course with a final clinical assessment, where we practiced clinical decision-making and the skills we learned in case studies with mannequins and patient actors! Here are our post-exam smiles!

Outside of class, I also took part in local service activities once a week. I had the opportunity to volunteer at a local public school to teach Spanish to local Ukrainian refugees. This was by far one of the most significant experiences during my time there. Learning how to connect with people from life so different from my own was such a humbling experience, and I quickly grew very fond of the students I worked with.

Linda poses for a group picture in front of a chalkboard inside of a classroom alongside the students she taught and her fellow peer-teachers.
I had the humbling opportunity to volunteer teaching Spanish to Ukrainian refugees — here are my students and fellow peer-teachers!
Inside of a room that looks like a dance studio the flamenco instructor stands in front of a group of Rice students showing them how to dance.
One of our post-class adventures was learning how to flamenco, taught by one of the students at the University of Navarra!

There were also plenty of opportunities to learn about Spain and its culture through planned excursions every weekend, which were led by students from the University of Navarra. We were able to visit nearby cities in Northern Spain, such as Bilbao, San Sebastián and San Juan (fun fact, a scene from the Game of Thrones was filmed at San Juan)! 

Linda poses with her fellow Rice students in a street in Pamplona.
Every Thursday in Pamplona, there is a tradition called Juevintxos, where people can enjoy small bites with delicious drinks for very low prices in the center of the city! It was no surprise that my classmates and I went pretty much every week!
Linda and two other students are crouching on the beach next to the letters "BKR" spelled out in the sand, which stands for Baker.
During one of our excursions to San Sebastián, my Baker College classmates and I decided to show off some college pride! BKR (Baker) comes first!

I can’t end this post without talking about one of my favorite parts of this experience: my host family! Each student in this program was paired with a family based on shared interests, living habits and personality. I am a naturally sociable person, so I was paired with a family of 7 siblings– with a family that big, it was always a fiesta in the house! Within the first week, they quickly became my home away from home and second family. From exploring Pamplona’s landscape on my host dad’s motorcycle, to attending a Spanish concert with my host siblings, to watching Marvel movies every weekend in Spanish (with Spanish subtitles too!), we made so many memories together that I will never forget.

Linda poses for a picture with her host family as well as their white, fluffy dog.
Here is my loving host family celebrating my 21st birthday!

Living and speaking Spanish 24/7 definitely was intimidating at times, but it was such a rewarding experience that helped me improve my Spanish drastically. I love this program so much and all the experiences I’ve gained from it. I highly recommend this to anyone!

Linda and a group of her fellow Rice students pose for a picture inside of a cathedral in Pamplona.
Another one of my favorite excursions– a trip to the cathedral of Pamplona! Again, not pictured are our tired legs after climbing hundreds of stairs to the top of the bell tower!

Thank you to Linda for her willingness to share all about her experiences this summer. Learn more about the things Linda mentioned in her blog, including:

The Elizabeth Lee Moody International Fund in the Humanities and the Arts
Rice in Country
Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication
Study Abroad

And don't forget to read Linda's earlier post on her research experience as one of The Elizabeth Lee Moody Undergraduate Research Fellows in the Humanities and the Arts!

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