Study Abroad Advice from Ambassador Sarah Hopkins: Why IES Abroad, How to Meet Locals & More

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Anna Egan


Sarah Hopkins, our May 2016 IES Abroad Ambassador of the Month, shares with us why she chose IES Abroad, what study abroad means to her, how she met local students, and even more.

Sarah studied on our Madrid Language & Area Studies Program in Spring 2015 and just graduated from Villanova University with a Biology major and a Spanish minor.


IES Abroad: Why IES Abroad?

SH: In addition to offering classes that really interested me, IES Abroad offers so many extracurricular activities that helped make my study abroad semester amazing: organized trips to other cities around Spain, social and cultural activities with Spanish students, and an amazing staff at the Center who is always there to help!

What does study abroad mean to you?

SH: Study abroad was an incredible opportunity for me to gain a more worldly perspective, quite literally, from the courses I took in Spanish history and art in the Prado Museum to the different social norms in the many countries I was able to visit in Europe. It really opened my eyes and ignited a sense of curiosity and wonder that can only come from spending months in a completely new place.

How did you meet locals abroad?

SH: I really took advantage of the opportunities IES Abroad offered: intercambios with Spanish students who were learning English, social activities organized by the Center, interacting with my host family, and just generally being friendly to anyone I met!

What have you gained from being an IES Abroad Ambassador?

SH: Being an IES Abroad Ambassador has been an awesome experience...I get to talk about my incredible study abroad experience constantly! Speaking with students who are considering studying abroad allows me to take myself back to those wonderful months in Spain and relive the whirlwind one story at a time.

What one piece of advice would you share to those who are returning home from study abroad?

SH: Don't lose touch with your time abroad. Don't stop being adventurous. Don't stop practicing the language. Try to keep up with some of the friends you made during your semester, try out some recipes that your host family made for you. Look at pictures every once in a while...remember what an amazing experience it was and how lucky you are to have had the opportunity!

Congratulations, Sarah!

The IES Abroad Ambassador Program connects our future students with our past students. If you’re interested in learning more about our Ambassador Program or have a question for a past IES Abroad student, visit our IES Abroad Ambassadors page.

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Anna Egan

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