Intercambios: Bringing The Abroad Experience To Happy Valley

It’s no secret that hundreds of Penn State students take pride in the culturally-enriching act of studying abroad. The various study abroad programs offered at Penn State give some students the opportunity of a lifetime, as well as “the best time” of their lives. However, when these four to 16-week adventures come to an end, so do the student’s cultural conversation. Before they know it, students are once again submerged in American culture and back in Happy Valley.

This year, however, one program is changing the game to make the abroad experience a domestic affair. Intercambios is a student-run program for Spanish students, those who miss their Spanish experience abroad, and native Spanish speakers alike.

Last year, four since-graduated business majors participated in the Business and Culture program in Sevilla, and were involved in the Intercambios program in Spain. In Spain, the Intercambios program matched each American student with a native Spanish speaker. The program allowed students to learn about Spanish cultural in a more relaxed setting, as opposed to a formal class on the subject.

The students felt their abroad experience was fortified by the program. Upon returning home, the four Penn Staters set out to organize a companion Intercambios program here in Happy Valley.

The Penn State Intercambios program aims to improve non-native speakers’ fluency, help Spanish speakers with their English, teach Spanish as a means to increase the possibility of employment opportunities, and learn about the language and culture without the stress of a classroom setting.

Current Intercambios president Nicole Yingling explained that the program is a great way to talk with people who have common interests, as well as those from another culture. Those who are native to Spanish speaking countries are not only welcomed, but encouraged to join the program in order to make Intercambios as diverse and interesting as possible.

“It’s really easy and fun to get involved with the language and culture when you have a friend who is from the place you’re studying,” Yingling said. “Everyone feels the same way. The people who come want to learn.”

Yingling hopes to find more native Spanish speakers interested in the program and anticipates that the program will soon become an established club and potentially create a mentor program between members of Intercambios.

For more information about Intercambios, contact Nicole Yingling at here.

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About the Author

Emma Curtis

Emma is a staff writer for Onward State. She is a sophomore in the College of Communications and a first generation Penn Stater. Emma comes from a diverse military family and has moved around a lot; however, she has recently found her favorite home in Happy Valley. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @cinemmatiic.

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