Monika Cinch couldn't stay away from Spain - after studying abroad in the spring of 2015 at Universidad Loyola Andalucia, she returned in the fall of 2016 for another semester.
Name: Monika Cinch
Year in school: Senior
Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL
Major: International Business/Marketing with Spanish Minor
Program: Universidad Loyola Andalucia
Q: What drew you back to this program?
A: This is a tough question, only because I really cannot pinpoint one specific thing because there are so many. Honestly, I think it is because I fell in love with Andalucia. The way of life, the language, the culture, and more than anything, the people, are what makes this program so special. There is nothing that the university will not help me with. I always feel comfortable and welcomed when I am there. I am not saying that I chose to go back to this university for comfort reasons, or because I love a good challenge, but I really just enjoy the company of the people that I met and trust. I was drawn back to this program because I know that it is going to get me closer to my ultimate dream, being fluent in Spanish.
Q: How has your daily life benefited from returning to Córdoba?
A: To start off with, the coffee every day is so good that it starts my day off about 100% better than normal. In all seriousness though, my daily life has changed drastically. If you ask any of my closest friends at Marquette, they would say that I am stressed out, always worried about something, maybe insecure at times. When I am here, I am so relaxed, and most importantly, happy. I think it is because I spend more quality time with people. Real conversations, more often. It is just the culture. I have become much more relaxed in school and in life. I have learned here how important it is to just enjoy the people around you. Spend more time doing what you love, so that you don’t feel like you are wasting your time doing anything.
Q: How were you able to go abroad as a senior? Were there challenges that came with that?
A: This is a good one. So, first off, I want to say that if you are interested in studying abroad twice but think that you cannot, do not throw the idea away yet. Contact whoever you need to in order to figure it out. It is not impossible! I basically was in an advising appointment, and I made a joke about going abroad again and my advisor said it was actually possible. So, I wrote an email to my Spanish university saying that I was able to work out my schedule to come back, but I would need to find a job in Spain to cover any costs. The amazing network of friends I made there helped make this dream a reality when they built an internship for me. It was a challenge because I felt like I was asking for so much, but I knew that it was something I needed to do.
Q: How has your day to day life differed this time around from the first time in Spain?
A: My day to day life has changed 100%. Before, I had my typical study abroad experience. Where I lived in a crazy apartment building with many friends from all over the world. We had so much fun throughout the city, getting lost almost every day in Córdoba. I spoke English with all of them where as today, I speak Spanish every day, almost all day. My friends this semester are all from Spain, people that I have met from my job in the International Relations Office, people that I met from the first time I was here, and others that I have met through other people. I speak Spanish mostly when I am in big groups with them all, because it is easier for them to all communicate and for me to just ask a question to any of them, because they are all bilingual. Another difference is that I work. I have a job and classes so I must have a balance. The best part about this second trip is that I know exactly where I am in Córdoba, how to maneuver, how to go grocery shopping, where to recommend if you loose your keys and need to go make replacements … those types of things. I feel more at home here in Córdoba.
Q: What are your plans post-graduation (is Spain in those plans)?
A: Spain is definitely in my post-grad plans. If I do not return to get my masters, I will return to look for a job. I would like to study international higher education, so that I can assist students in the study abroad process. I have never felt so passionate about an opportunity like studying abroad. It is something that has opened my eyes to not only culture and language, but it has led me to find what I want to do and who I want to be. I know that in my younger years I need to be abroad. I have made a little life here now, and it is hard to think at this point in time that I need to go home with no ticket to come back at the moment. I would like to relocate to Spain, absolutely.
Q: Three words to describe your time in Spain?
A: WORK. LIFE. BALANCE.
Q: What is one piece of advice you have for a student preparing to study abroad?
A: (IF YOU ARE GOING TO SPAIN, PACK PEANUTBUTTER!)
Just kidding. I think that the one piece of advice that I have is:Do not be afraid. Do not fear the unknown, do not fear getting on the plane, leaving home, and everything that comes with it. The more you change your life the more you learn. The more you mess up when speaking another language, you learn. Time moves so fast and for me to say ‘take advantage of every moment’ is an understatement. That doesn’t mean you need to be traveling 24/7, because to me, taking advantage of every moment is saying more ‘yes’ than ‘no’. Having a coffee with someone you barely know, say yes. Teach English to little kids down the street, say yes. When invited, say yes. You never know how things may turn out. If they are bad, then at least you tried, and if they are good, you’ve become stronger.
To learn more about study abroad opportunities at Marquette, visit: marquette.edu/abroad/getting-started.shtml