Name: Karlee Wegehaupt
Major: Spanish and Communication
Year in School: Senior
Program: Mérida, Mexico Fall 2015
My name is Karlee, I am a senior and both a Spanish and a Communication major. This fall semester I am in Mérida, Mexico as an exchange student. I am taking anthropology classes here at UADY (Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán) for Spanish credit back at GB.
Why did you choose to study abroad?
I chose to study abroad because I am serious about learning Spanish, and I know that the best way to improve is to be surrounded by it and forced to use it all the time. Also I knew that traveling through the school is a great opportunity, and the first step for traveling throughout the rest of my life. I chose Mérida because there are only a few countries offered as an exchange program for a semester of Spanish. Out of all the programs, I liked what I read about Mérida and the Yucatán peninsula the most.
What is the best part about studying abroad? Favorite experience?
The best part about studying abroad so far is not what I expected it to be. One part is having been able to see many of the beautiful sites in the Yucatán and meeting some fun and interesting people. The other part is that it has changed my perspective and idea of how I want to spend the rest of my life (traveling more!), and has given me a lot of confidence to solve problems on the fly. Mérida is VERY different from anywhere else I have been. In both ways that seems good and bad, but overall I really like it here and this has been a great experience so far. In fact, if I wasn’t already a senior, I would have liked to stay in Mérida for another whole semester.’
What did you struggle with? How did you overcome it?
The biggest struggles I’ve had were at the beginning of my journey when I realized how big of a language barrier there was between me and everyone else, how different everyday life would be from what I was used to, and having to tell my “host mom” that I was moving out of her house. Also, I was unable to make my flight into Mérida and instead had to take a bus there from Cancun—only
managing this through very broken Spanish while not really understanding anyone around me. I had no idea where exactly I was going, how long it would take, and even if anyone would be there to pick me up once I got to wherever I was going. That was an adventure! I have honestly had a LOT of struggles here (and I certainly have some good stories about them), but I think that is also something I have learned: that if you have a good attitude, you can take on almost anything.
What advice would you have for those who want to study abroad?
I would advise anyone and everyone to study abroad; especially if you want to but think that you can’t. Even if just for a month-long program and not necessarily a semester. If you find a way to make it happen you definitely won’t regret it.