LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 28, 2010) - Studying abroad is often described as a life-changing experience for college students. For Owensboro native Bryan Kennedy, a recent graduate from the College of Communications, his semester abroad changed his life.
This is the first in a three-part series which explores his experiences on another continent through multimedia.
We sat down with Bryan to garner some real answers to some basic questions about education abroad. His candid responses and video blog from his weekend trip to Paris, France offer an authentic taste of the true education abroad experience.
-Where did you live during your education abroad experience?
"I was based out of Seville, Spain. It’s not a large city, but it’s not small. To me it was the perfect education abroad destination. The city was easy to navigate and after a while it felt like another home. Just like in the states you have an everyday routine; I created an everyday routine there, too. The city was great. It’s a very old city with loads of history. The city was perfect for helping to advance my Spanish skills, too. Although Seville is a tourist destination, the majority of people in the city speak little to no English. This was of course difficult at first, but after I finally climbed out of my box, I had a great time hanging out with locals and improving my Spanish language skills."
-How long did you stay?
"I stayed in Seville for three months. I flew out of Lexington on Sept. 19 and returned on Dec. 14. In Spain the semesters start a little bit later than ours so I hung out at home in Owensboro until I was ready to fly out in September. Before I left, I could only think about the fact that I was going to be spending three months in a foreign country. To me this seemed like such a long time, but everyone who had studied abroad before me reminded that it would pass fast. Sure enough, they were right. It felt like it all went by in a blink of an eye, and looking back sometimes I feel as though it didn’t even happen. The entire experience happened so quickly. Luckily I have thousands of pictures and videos to remind me."
Tell us about having a host family.
"Looking back at my greatest memories, many of my favorite moments were spent with the great host family who let me stay with them. When studying abroad I believe your host family can make or break your experience. My host family not only made my experience, but they took it to the next level. My family was perfect. At first my roommate and I were nervous before we were about to meet our host family, but after meeting them, I quickly realized we totally lucked out. The family consisted of a mother and her three sons. One of her sons was married and no longer lived in the house, but the other brothers who lived there spent a lot of time at home. The relationship that was created between my family and me is one I will cherish forever. For someone to take you into their home and treat you as if you were one of their own is a skill not easily gained, but my host mother and the rest of her family did it well."
-Where else did you visit while you were based in Seville?
"Aside from Seville, I visited numerous cities in Spain. We traveled to Madrid, Granada, Cordoba, Toledo, and camped in the mountains of El Churro. Aside from those cities, I also was able to visit countries outside of Spain, too. My travel led to Portugal, France, and Morocco."
-You created video blogs about Spain, as well as two of these weekend trips you just mentioned. This week, the UK Now audience will be able to watch your blog from Paris. What was your favorite part about the "City of Lights?"
"The best part about Paris was visiting all the famous landmarks. Visiting the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower were most likely three of the most surreal experiences I had while I was abroad. You see these places on TV and in movies, books, and magazines, but then all of sudden you're standing right next to these landmarks. It’s a surreal experience and one that even to this day I find hard to put into words."
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, when Bryan will describe his classes, tell us about his favorite moments, and video blog from Morocco!
For more information about education abroad opportunities, visit: http://abroad.ad.uky.edu/ .