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Douglass embraces adventures abroad in Spain

Senior Elissa Douglass studied Spanish firsthand in Granada, Spain, this summer.

After attending a meeting about study abroad, Douglass, of League City, Texas, got in touch with Sol Education Abroad. Sol planned a two-week program in Granada for her and other students, organizing activities, arranging travel plans, and preparing them for the experience.

“While there, I got to go to Arab baths, tea houses, beaches, flamenco performances, flamenco classes, and cooking classes,” Douglass said. “It was incredible!”

She found the attitudes of people in Spain refreshing.

“Many things we consider a bit taboo in America are more widely accepted in Spain, and as a result I noticed those things didn’t seem to have as much potential for danger there.”

She and her roommates wanted to visit a “discoteca,” or dance club, one night and were nervous to ask their host mom, afraid she would think they came to Spain just to party.

“When we asked her, though, she basically said ‘Finally! We thought you all would never ask!’ She viewed it as something we needed to see to have a well-rounded experience. The environment always felt safe, and the people seemed very comfortable being exactly who they are.”

The most challenging moments in Granada were the most worthwhile, she said.

“Jumping off of a cliff into the sea, climbing up said cliff, going off of a hiking trail to find a waterfall, and speaking Spanish every day while being concerned no one would understand what I say all terrified me… but I ultimately enjoyed them the most.”

As a double major in Spanish and business administration, the trip was a chance for her to increase her fluency in the language.

“Lyon gave me the grammatical background that I needed while I was in Spain. It was really my Spanish professors who got me there in the first place.”

“I knew if I was going to major in Spanish I would not want to quit until I was fluent, and, although I’m still not nearly there, I have had great professors who have encouraged me when I got frustrated and felt like it seemed impossible.”

“Elissa has been an exceptional student since she arrived on campus in August 2016,” said Assistant Professor of Spanish John Herda, “and I am proud of her courage and intellectual curiosity. Studying abroad was always a goal of hers, and she has completed it successfully in Granada.”

Being immersed in the culture was a big step forward in achieving that goal.

“Of course I have taken a leap in my comprehension of Spanish,” Douglass said, “but, more than that, being in a different culture has expanded me as a person.”

Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Monica Rodriguez said studying abroad provides students “with an inside look at Hispanic culture.” They have many opportunities for immersion, including sharing a meal with their host family, socializing with locals at a café, and going shopping.

“Everything learned in the classroom comes alive, and the adventure begins!”

Douglass said she will be able to effectively communicate with a broader range of people when she enters a career after college.

“I plan to work in human resources, so I think understanding people is a critical part of the job.”

Douglass said she looks forward to traveling more in the future.

“Spain is definitely a hard place not to miss.”