Valentina Millenia Ramsay

NAME: Valentina Ramsay
MAJOR: Advertising
PROGRAM: Spain – SJSU Exchange – Toulouse Business School – Barcelona Campus
BIO: Please tell us about you and why you chose to study abroad.

I chose to study abroad because it has always been a dream of mine to live in another country, especially during my younger years-an opportunity not many get. I also have traveled many times before so I felt comfortable going alone- and was very excited to.

CAREER: What skills did you learn/sharpen during your study abroad experience?

Reflect on how your study abroad experience and the skills, knowledge, or networking has enhanced or contributed to your life back on campus or home.

I opened my mind to new cultures in many different ways. I learned cooking, dancing, and even just a difference in communicating, with many different cultures. I also learned many customs of different cultures, which have broadened my perspective on what I knew my previous world to be.

GOALS: What were your goals for studying abroad?

Reflect on the personal, academic, and professional goals that you had set out to achieve on your study abroad experience?

Personal: Become more independent and open my mind to new things- see what I prefer and don’t prefer as much. Academic: Be able to experience learning in a new environment to see if I learned better or not as well as in the States. Professional: Learn more about different manners, expectations, and worth ethics of people around the world. Also network. I achieved all of them!

PERSONAL GROWTH: What was the biggest impact that your study abroad experience had on you?

I formed many meaningful friendships- some even deeper within the short amount of time I had formed them in comparison to some relationships I’ve had in the States. I learned that most European and some Latin American people seem to show lots of genuine care and appreciation to everyone, even if they had just met you. Conversations are deeper, they are more heartfelt and meaningful.

ACADEMICS: How would you describe your academic experience abroad?

Share what courses you chose to take abroad and the strategies you used to ensure your academic success. How has the experience impacted your academics now that you have returned to SJSU?

I took courses on Marketing and Ethics. A lot of assignments were group-project based, so I did my best to do my part while also making sure that the group- most of them with English as a second language- were on the same page. I must admit though: going to a school with primarily French-speaking students- there was a  lot of pressure I put on myself to not look like the “dumb American”. Blunt, but that was my experience as one of the two Americans in the entire school. At the end of the day, I am so proud of myself for never letting that pressure stop me from being the charismatic person I am and making so many friends-even with the initially reserved French students (One who I soon ended up dating actually). Although the different teaching styles made it hard at times- I had to keep an open mind and persevere. Returning home, I have used some new skills and perspectives I had collected abroad to do things differently than before.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: How has your immersion impacted your perspectives on the world?

My immersion has completely changed the view I have of the world and even my day-today life. All of a sudden I can bring a second perspective into the picture for almost every single situation in my life, as I have experienced the world in a completely different way than I was used to before. It has made me become an even more accepting and simultaneously curious person.

FUTURE: How has study abroad prepared you for your future?

Study abroad has prepared me for my future by teaching me to be open and accepting of new things, even some which may push me out of my comfort zone, and most importantly; made me more independent and fearless.

TIPS: What advice would you give to a future Global Spartan?

Be open to anything. Meet new people. Eat funny things. Try to learn the language but even if you struggle – don’t be afraid to talk to those around you. Step out of your comfort zone. You traveled to this country knowing nobody- so don’t be afraid to go on solo dates with yourself when you haven’t made friends yet- even just as simple as a walk around your new neighborhood. You’re still young- go out more during the day and or night. Once you do this you will find even more to do, and establish even more connections. You will realize how quickly a 24-hour day passes, and some days there’s so much to do- it’s almost hard to choose. Give yourself mental rest when needed, of course, but don’t allow yourself to come back wishing you could’ve done more.


Viridiana Galvez Garcia

Viridiana Galvez Garcia

Major: Business Accounting
Term Abroad: Winter 2023
Year: Junior
Program / Location: Barcelona, Spain: FLP – A Taste of Spain

Why did you want to study abroad? 

I wanted to study abroad because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone . I love learning about different cultures and exposing myself to new experiences.

What has been your most surprising, positive, or challenging experience abroad?

My most positive experience abroad includes meeting amazing students in my program and getting to know more about local people and their traditions.

How did you manage your academic success abroad during the pandemic?

I scheduled certain times during the day to focus only on my school responsibilities, making sure I was completing all my assignments.

What are some ways that you interacted with the local community?

I am a very curious person. I tried to ask as many questions as possible whenever we were taking a tour.

What are some tips for managing your health and safety while abroad?

I would say making sure to always having a face mask around, also washing your hands as often as possible and making sure you follow the host county guidelines.

Any advice to potential study abroad students?

Always listen to the professor and the study abroad and away staff advice. Follow their instructions and make the best out of this unforgettable experience.

Mariana Rojas-Montoya

Mariana Rojas-Montoya
Major: Physics
Term Abroad: Winter 2023
Program / Location: Spain FLP

Why did you want to study abroad? 
I wanted to explore something completely different from my major, and it was a good reset for myself before starting a new semester. When I first started college, I didn’t think that studying abroad was even in the cards for me since my major did not require a study abroad experience. When I found out that there were programs that covered a student’s area V, I got excited. It was an impulsive decision since I applied right after I read about it, but such spontaneity led to academic growth. On top of that, I’ve been wanting to practice my Spanish more, so a program for Spain was my immediate first choice.

What has been your most surprising, positive, or challenging experience abroad?
The thing that I enjoyed the most was how much time I was able to spend with my classmates. My favorite moments include touring historical spots, cooking together, shoe making, learning about the production of certain foods, and being introduced to new dishes during our group meals. I especially cherished the activities that my classmates and I did during our free time. It was during those moments that we were able to bond through laughter, curiosity, sharing stories from our own lives, and expressing our gratitude for having this experience abroad together. I am incredibly lucky to have traveled with this cohort. They really did make the program even more worthwhile.

How are you managing your academic success abroad during the pandemic?
I was able to manage my academic success abroad by being mindful of my assignments and their due dates. I also view my experience in the program as a form of management for my overall academic success in San Jose State. I wanted time to think about how I’ve been feeling with my studies back at home, and the trip provided me the chance to disconnect from anything related to my major, which felt refreshing. Regardless of what major a student has, it is always healthy to just step back from it for a little while and rest. By being in a setting that allowed me to learn and unwind at the same time, I was able to make choices upon returning home that will help me achieve my academic goals.

What are some ways that you are interacting with the local community ?
A memorable interaction that I had was with a store owner who ran a stationery store in Barcelona. My roommate and I were looking for a gift while exploring small alleyways during our free time, which is how we ended up in the store. I started chatting with the store owner, and that is when she told me that the notebooks were special since they were all handmade in house. She shared a story about her upbringing and how she developed her interest in making notebooks. I then learned about how people in that town would have a vision of things that they like, so they would open a small business to share it with the public. It felt special hearing these stories through her, and she even told me about other antique stores that she recommended I visit during my trip. Barcelona is filled with nooks and crannies of people’s art, and making those discoveries is the best part of interacting with the locals.

What are some tips for managing your health and safety while abroad?
Coordinate with your classmates regarding communication. Always let them know where you or someone is going, which is crucial if anything were to happen. Always observe your surroundings, keep your purses/bags in front of you to protect your belongings, and stay in areas where there are plenty of people and enough lighting. As for health, do bring masks, sanitizing wipes, and medication.

Any advice to potential study abroad students?

  • Research the weather for all of the programs offered. This might be a no-brainer for those who travel a lot, but it could be something that doesn’t cross someone’s mind if they don’t travel much or at all.
  • Even if your major does not require a study abroad experience, Spartans Abroad does offer programs that can cover an upper division general education area such as area V. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the office and/or professors with questions about those details, I really encourage speaking with them if you have any doubts about anything!
  • If you are considering doing a program, then go for it! As mentioned before, sometimes you just need to step back from your current major studies and take time to explore new things. It is beneficial since you are able to realize/reflect on what is truly making you happy in life. Just go out and live!