Delaney Hartman, right, and her host mom, Manuela, enjoyed time together in Spain.

Study Abroad Offers Life-Changing Experience

Sep. 15, 2023

Delaney Hartman , at

In my time in España, I has a few academic and personal goals set for myself. I think coming into this trip, I underestimated the workload that I would be facing. One of my goals on this trip was to excel in terms of my conversational abilities, rather than my grammatical abilities. I have never been good at English, or grammar, so I knew enrolling in Spanish 102 online would probably be difficult for me to learn during the summer. I can confidently say now that I have exceeded my expectations in terms of what I have learned this past month, that I have learned more Spanish in the past four weeks – give or take – than I have in my whole life. 

I owe most of this to my host mom, Manuela. Manuela was always patient with me. I was nervous traveling to España about a month ago when I did not know as much Spanish as I do now. Little did I know that I had nothing to be worried about. Living with a host family enriched my social and academic experiences in España. I am so thankful that I was placed with the family that I stayed with because I had a great experience. 

Despite all of this, I think I am still going to be learning the preterite for a while because the academic content of this trip was difficult for me. No matter how hard it got, I pushed myself to keep up. I am very proud of how I performed academically on this trip, whether my final grade reflects it. 

I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama. When I was younger, I didn’t realize how many people around me did not know how to speak English in my hometown. As I grew older and began to work in the food service industry, I ran into people who could not confidently order their meals. In the past, when I traveled to Spanish-speaking countries for humanitarian reasons, I realized how fortunate I am to have an education and have the resources to learn another language. 

Since I was around the age of 12, I decided it was going to be a big life goal of mine to become (at least) bilingual and learn how to speak Spanish fluently. In my opinion, in America, many people take opportunities for granted. Going to college, I decided I wanted to fulfil a minor in Spanish. Of course, I could learn to speak Spanish fluently without this minor, but I think it is important for my future career goals for me to become fluent. 

My major is public relations. I hope to work for a company and help with marketing and similar categories in the business realm. I think for anyone who has a career where you interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, it is important to speak Spanish. Being bilingual makes me a big asset for any workplace. 

Traveling has always been the thing that brings me the most joy in life. I believe that, for my future career, it is important to pick something that doesn’t feel like work. Currently, lots of companies offer remote work environments in communication-based careers. I hope to work remotely for a company and help with marketing strategies that are beneficial for the company. I think, when choosing a job that requires you to interact with people, it is important to stay constantly informed about the world and other cultures. Becoming bilingual is something that I hope will play a large role in my future career, and I am hoping to graduate in December of 2025. 

Living in Salamanca this past month was more beneficial than I could have ever hoped. I never expected to find what felt like a home there, but I did. I am so thankful that I got to live with a host family and experience Spanish culture through the local lens. I am glad we were able to travel to Bilbao and Madrid to see the differences in the atmosphere of those cities. I knew that, by participating in this trip, it would help me experience Spanish culture in an organic way that I could not have gained from just going on vacation, and I was right. 

While at times, being in Salamanca was stressful due to rigorous academic expectations, I had the time of my life. I gained knowledge, friendships, and countless memories that I will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. Being in España was life-changing, and I don’t think I would change a thing.

About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering credential, certificate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in the colleges of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering; Business and Technology; Education and Human Sciences; and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. The first-choice University for more than 10,000 on-campus and online students, UNA is on a bucolic campus in Florence, Alabama, part of the historic and vibrant Shoals region. Lions Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I’s ASUN Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: and