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Semester in Spain provides senior with international perspective

07/15/15

Now, more than ever after studying abroad, the international aspect of business is relevant and interesting to Noelle Dumont ’16 of Patterson, N.Y. A business administration major with concentrations in marketing and international business, she attended the University of Barcelona in Spain last semester.

Dumont chose to study at the University of Barcelona because of the classes it offers, and because she’s studied Spanish for five years. However, she quickly discovered that Barcelona’s native “Catalan” language sounds nothing like Spanish.

“It was extremely difficult to get over the language barrier at first,” she said.

Studying in a country where hamburgers don’t come with buns and fries are eaten with mayonnaise also gave Dumont a new perspective. Life in Barcelona, she said, was simple, and “the complete opposite” of the United States.

“We are money-oriented, not family-oriented like the Catalans and how we should be. In the U.S., I am always worrying about money, grades and due dates,” said Dumont. “Our host parents and teachers encouraged us more than anything to go out, travel and see things, because we would grow and learn from our experiences.”

She thoroughly enjoyed Barcelona, which she enjoyed with three other MCLA students, who traveled with her.

“From the moment we entered the city, every single windowsill had their country’s flag or futbol team flag hanging,” Dumont said. “I loved walking through the city and hearing the different languages being spoken. 

Hundreds of bakeries – with delicious pastries – lined the streets as she walked to her classes.

“Let’s just say everyone gained a little weight,” Dumont said.

In class, she enjoyed looking at business and marketing from a European perspective. “It is crazy the small differences in products that we sell – compared to what they sell – make such a huge difference in daily life,” she said.

In addition to becoming familiar with Barcelona, Dumont traveled around the coast of eastern Spain to cities such as Sitges, Figueres and Girona. She also visited Porto, Portugal, and traveled through the South of France for a weekend, going down the Amalfi Coast of Italy to visit places like Positano, Pompeii and Capri.

However, the experience that impacted Dumont the most was her visit to Rome.

“Rome was breathtaking. The history behind this city was too much to take in for one visit. The more I learned, the more I felt like I knew nothing. Rome brought me to tears so many times because I was almost in awe of all of the important historic things that I let slip my mind that impact my life so much today,” she said.

“Seeing and understanding Rome was life changing, because the things I read in text books and saw in movies were right in front of my eyes. This was one of the trips where I texted my mom and dad to thank them for helping me to study abroad,” Dumont said.

After  her experience, engaging in unfamiliar cities where she didn’t know the language and finding her way around without help from her parents left Dumont feeling confident.

“It opened up our minds to different ways of living,” she said. “After being abroad, I feel like I have a sense of how different cultures and people in different countries live their lives, and that alone is a blessing that not many kids my age can experience.”