Kacy C. is a Language Studies Major studying abroad in the Dominican Republic.
Here is what she has to say about her time in the D.R. so far:
I had no idea what to expect when studying abroad. Choosing a destination was difficult for me and that was only the first step. The days leading up to leaving for my trip, I was nervous, excited, terrified, and eager to learn about the culture and language of the D.R. The first few days were filled with meeting the other students in the program, orientation with the program, orientation with the university, a tour, and placement testing.
The other students and I were able to spend the first weekend at the beach and get to know each other. It was nice to be sitting at dinner with my feet in the sand in January, making new friends. Since then, I’ve gotten closer to many of them and know that this trip has given that to me. Studying abroad is something I’ve dreamed of doing since high school. Getting the opportunity to study in another country, to improve my Spanish language skills, learn about a new culture, and to live with another family is an amazing experience and I’m happy that I am able to do it. Making new friends along the way was an added bonus I didn’t expect!
So many things here are different than the United States. I’m currently living in a developing country. This is a whole new experience that I’m still learning to navigate. I get stared at and cat-called because I look “exotic” to them, the showers are sometimes “warm,” and we can’t drink the water. These are things that I have become somewhat accustomed to. I will be very happy to get back home and take hot showers, eat the variety of food the U.S. offers, and the other luxuries I’ve taken for granted, but I will not regret choosing to spend four months in a developing country in the Caribbean.
One thing I did expect is to get here and for my language abilities to just skyrocket the first week. My understanding is much better. I can understand their accent and the speed at which they speak much better than I could two months ago, even when they omit the “s” in their words. That one took me a little while to get used to and still catches me off-guard sometimes. I’ve been told that I will improve more in the last month here than I will in the first three months combined. I’m really excited to see these results and am determined to get them.
I learned about the stages of culture shock and feared going through them, but also didn’t think I would. I knew I was going to be here for four months and I was determined to embrace it and I was also excited to learn. I’ve had ups and downs with culture shock and being homesick, but having school, friends, excursions with the program, and independent excursions with the other students definitely keep us busy and happy to be here. Missing home is the hardest part about this experience, but I am happy to be here any would make this decision again if given the choice. Studying abroad has been the greatest and hardest experience of my life.