A semester abroad gives students a taste of something new

CATEGORIES: News, Students

For students who desire to broaden their academic learning beyond America’s borders, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) offers a myriad of study abroad programs with a variety of lengths and locations, making it easy for students to find an opportunity that fits their needs.

Several LAS students are spending spring semester earning academic credit, enhancing their language skills, and creating life-long memories in numerous locations around the globe. Here’s a look at two students – one in Spain and the other in Italy – who are enhancing their academic prowess and cultural awareness through study abroad programs.

 Crispy churros and global connections in Cáceres

Pink Street in Lisbon Portugal
Laura Dupuis (’25 linguistics, French) made a trip to Portugal this spring while studying abroad in Spain. (Submitted photo)

With double majors in the Department of English and the Department of World Languages and Cultures, Laura Dupuis (’25 linguistics, French) spends a lot of time studying and practicing languages. This spring, she decided to go further with an immersive language experience in Cáceres, Spain.

Iowa State’s Semester in Cáceres allows students, in just one semester, to complete a minor in Spanish or half a Spanish major. Home to one of the campuses of the Universidad de Extremadura, a public Spanish university, Cáceres is located halfway between Madrid and Lisbon and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Fans of the HBO television series “Game of Thrones” may recognize some filming sites there from the series.

“I wanted to study abroad for multiple reasons,” said Dupuis, who is also a Spanish minor. “One of them was to enhance my language skills; there is no better way to improve your fluency than by traveling to a country where everyone speaks it! Being surrounded by the language I was learning excited me and motivated me to keep learning the language. I can attest that my language skills improved a lot.”

Dupuis’s favorite class in Cáceres has been SPAN 351: Introduction to Spanish-English Translation. The course is particularly useful as she explores a possible career as a translator.

“The class is a good mix of fun and work, and I look forward to going to it every day,” she said.

While anyone can travel abroad, Dupuis said she appreciated how different studying abroad is from taking a vacation.

“I have enjoyed meeting and communicating with people from all over the world,” she said. “It’s very eye-opening to see that there’s much more to this world than what you are used to seeing every day, and it makes you appreciate the little things even more. Being able to talk to people in the target language, which you are all learning, is an experience unlike any other. Learning about everyone’s backgrounds, stories, where they came from, and how you have all been united to learn the same language is fascinating, and it made learning the target language even more worth it; you can see the many doors and opportunities it opens to connect with others.”

Dupuis has also loved exploring foods in Spain and broadening her palate. She tried prawns for the first time and found a new favorite food in churros, the popular fried dough treat.

“Whether eating it for breakfast or as a Friday afternoon snack, there’s something about the rich chocolatey-ness of the sauce and the crispiness of the churro that is just impeccable and unmatched anywhere else!” Dupuis said.

 Coffee and culture in Italy

Logan Hansen in Rome, Italy
Logan Hansen (’24 advertising) looks out over the horizon in Rome, Italy. (Submitted photo)

It took a nearly 5,000-mile journey for Iowa State senior Logan Hansen (’24 advertising) to discover he likes coffee. Coffee was not a staple in Hansen’s American diet, but since he’s been studying abroad in Urbino, Italy, this semester, he has developed a taste for the caffeinated concoction.

“Coffee here is way cheaper than what you can get in America. This convinced me to try the coffee here,” he said. “At first, I wouldn’t say I liked it. That might be because I ordered an expresso. I tried different kinds of coffee throughout my time here. Then, I started developing a taste for coffee. My go-to now is a caffé macchiato.”

Enjoying a cup of java is just one of the many new experiences Hansen has relished while in Urbino. This semester marks the fifth time Iowa State and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences have collaborated with the University of Urbino in Italy to offer students an opportunity to delve into Renaissance art history and literature, learn to speak Italian, and study photojournalism. Any Iowa State student who meets the program’s prerequisites may apply.

As an advertising major, Hansen is surprised by how much he enjoys learning about art and history.

“I never really appreciated the importance of art before studying abroad,” Hansen said. “It surprised me that I loved learning about the Renaissance and how it impacted the culture of our world.”

Hansen’s decision to study abroad was spurred by a desire to grow, both personally and academically. He says the experience has prepared him for whatever the future may bring.

“Being in a foreign country challenged me so much that it helped me become more independent,” Hansen said. “I learned to live in a different culture with a different language and adapt accordingly.”

Hansen appreciates Italy’s slower pace of life. By immersing himself in the Italian culture and lifestyle, he better understands the similarities and differences all people share.

“In Italy, there is a different pace to life,” he said. “People tend to take things in more and take their time. When the semester is over, I will learn to appreciate the little things.

Like a good cup of coffee.