Peer Advisors

Anna RivardAnna Rivard

Major: Spanish Language & Literature

Minor: N/A

Year in School: Senior

Email: arivard@niu.edu

Study Abroad Program: Intensive Spanish Semester at the University of Málaga in Málaga, Spain with ISA & Studies at University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina with CEA

Other Countries you have visited: Uruguay, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Scotland, Portugal, France, Holland, Belgium

Why did you decide to study abroad?

At first my main goal was to immerse myself in the language and become fluent in Spanish. Plus, attending University on the Mediterranean Sea seemed way more appealing than these cornfields here in Illinois! Once abroad, I fell in love with traveling and meeting people from all around the world and getting to know their cultures! I became addicted, and as soon as I was home I was back in the study abroad office planning my second semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina!

Favorite memory from studying abroad:

I have a million absolutely wonderful memories from studying abroad! I can’t easily choose just one. I celebrated Saint Patrick’s day in Ireland with locals, attended Palm Sunday service at the Notre Dame, volunteered at a community assisted living residence in the South of Spain, got pulled onto the dance floor during a Flamenco performance in Granada, got lost by myself in the streets of Amsterdam, got a job in Buenos Aires while I watched the sun set and rise every weekend, had a local try to teach me tango, and best of all -- I made friends with people from all over the world that I’m planning trips to see again now!

Favorite excursion or adventure:

My favorite excursion lead by my program with ISA would probably have to be to Toledo, Spain. This was my first weekend in Spain and my first real interaction with the locals. Toledo is one of my favorite Spanish cities, the beautiful cobblestone streets and little family owned shops that line the streets won me over. CEA took us to Iguazú Falls which is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, where we took a boat ride through one of the falls! To say that was an incredible experience would be an understatement!

Why do you think that it is important to study abroad?

I can't even begin to explain how incredibly important I think it is for young adults to get out and see the world. I spent 20 years living in this little town of northern Illinois surrounded by cornfields and the same people I'd met when I was in grade school. In my two semesters abroad, I learned more than I could have ever imagined about myself and what I thought my limitations were. I went from never having flown on a plane, to flying to a different country every few weeks. Study abroad well exceeded any expectation I had set. I immersed myself in the language - the Spanish and Argentinian lifestyle. I practiced my Spanish not only in class, but also at home, as well as anywhere I went. I experienced more of the world and other cultures and beliefs. I changed for the better - I grew - and I know I’ll never be the same again. I can only hope every other student has the opportunity to have the life changing experience that I did.

Any tips you have for students interested in studying abroad?

Research different countries you may be interested in traveling to while you’re abroad. In Europe, for example, if you know you want to visit Austria, Switzerland, Croatia and Slovenia you should opt to get the Eurorail pass! I suggest booking your return ticket a few weeks (or even months!) after your program ends to maximize your savings! The biggest expenditure is the ticket from US to Europe! Extend your stay and see as much as you can! Also, if your main goal is to learn a language, try to distance yourself as much as you can from speaking English! Immerse yourself in the culture, make friends with the locals. I promise you that will make your time abroad all the more beneficial!