Alumni - Where are they are now?

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SI Alumni Joseph Bittner reports back 

from Junior year study abroad

Why did you choose to go to Barcelona? The program in Barcelona is one of the most popular at Santa Clara University where I study and is perfect for Business and Spanish majors like me. I wanted to go somewhere I could improve my Spanish skills and I also wanted to go to Europe so this perfect. I have many friends who have studied in Barcelona and could not say enough good things about it: good location, amazing city, lots to do. 


Catalan is spoken in Barcelona, so do you get to really practice your Spanish a lot? I speak Spanish everyday and all the time, interacting with people on the street, at the school, at stores, with my host family, in daily life. Some of the signs around the city are in Catalan but people speak Spanish all the time. 


Was it difficult to adjust to living in Barcelona? No much. I am bi-lingual and bi-cultural and I knew I would not have any trouble with the language. The lifestyle is different in that it is a slower pace, and things don't always happen on time, but you just get used to it. You just have to embrace the lifestyle and way of doing things and immerse yourself in it. I think I adjusted easily because I was confident in my language abilities and had experienced a different way of life in another country when I went on the 8th grade Costa Rica trip, and on a 10-day business immersion trip to El Salvador last year. I feel very comfortable here and could see myself living and working here (for awhile). 

SI Alumni Marisa Zapata takes a gap year

 to explore new cultures

What is a gap year? That’s when you take a year off to travel before you start university or college.

When did you decide to take a gap year and why? I made the decision when I was 17, the summer before senior year of high school. I was frustrated with the tedious college application process and started thinking about taking a gap year. I had decided on a couple of universities, but felt I needed a break from school. I had traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico when I was in 4th grade and Costa Rica in 8th grade and wanted to travel again. 

I reached out to Andeo, which had coordinated our 8th grade trip, for a gap program that was flexible and fit my budget...especially since I had to pay for part of it myself. 

How did you spend your gap year? I traveled to several countries including: France, Ecuador, Peru and the Galapagos. The best way to get an idea of how I spent it is to visit my blog. I documented my travels in words and pictures. marisad13z.wordpress.com.  

What about school? I was accepted to the University of Puget Sound and sent them a Request of Deferral around the time I was planning this out. They accepted and ensured me a spot in the incoming class of 2010. 

Do you go to school there now? Yes, I attend the U of Puget Sound where I take classes in World Religions and Cultures. And Spanish of course.

Would you recommend a gap year to other students? Without a doubt! It gave me clarity and purpose, and an education I’d never get in a classroom. I feel like I’m a more insightful student and person because of the experiences that the gap year allowed me to be immersed in.