Traveling from Italy, to Greece, and to Spain, studying abroad has taken flight with many UNI students. So far seven members within the chapter have taken the opportunity to explore and learn about other cultures outside of North America and one member, Elle Samples, is studying abroad in Greece as we speak.
Niche, France: photo taken by Rachel Stephany, VP of Public Relations
Senior Kyle Spaete went to Spain in the Spring of 2023 to complete his general Spanish minor at La Universidad de Oviedo Casa de las Lenguas. The Asturias region of Spain is one of the places in which Spaete spent his time. It is not a very touristy area, therefore, a good part of the population only speaks Spanish which was an adjustment considering Iowans primarily speak English. Luckily, he says that everyone he came across was “friendly and understanding of my effort as an American to be immersed in their language.”
An interesting cultural difference Spaete found is Spain’s patient lifestyle versus America’s career-oriented lifestyle.
“I believe the European outlook on work/life balance is way better than ours in the United States,” Spaete says. “I noticed they prioritize spending time with friends and family, and that they separate their identity from their job more than we do here. Coming back to the U.S., I was disappointed in our food quality and auto-centric urban planning after being used to live in Spain.”
“The building I lived in was over 300 years older than America, which is crazy to me.” Hunter Neilsen, Senior
Rachel Stephany, junior and the VP of Public Relations, noticed the same laid-back swing of things when she studied in Greece for three weeks over the Summer of 2023.
Stephany says, “Scheduling and being late is not a big thing there– you show up when you want to. Additionally, everyone stays out late, and usually, dinner doesn’t start until 10 or 10:30 p.m.”
Even with dinner starting this late at night, families can still be seen everywhere. Children hang on to their parents wherever they end up because the cities are easily mobile. Stephany found that every place her group went was more than walkable and public transportation was never out of the question.
Same as Spaete, the VP of PR found that everyone her group met was so kind and welcoming, and genuinely wondered about their lives and well-being. She continues by saying, “It was so interesting to ask local people about their life, career, how they grew up, etc. I also really enjoyed the town of Nafplio- it is a small town of about 10,000 that was the capital of Greece before Athens. It has a lot of history for this reason, which was interesting.”
Haley Christensen, senior, agrees with Stephany that everyone she came across in Greece was very kind and welcoming. Christensen traveled by bus through the mainland of Greece, and then flew to one of their islands, Crete, in two weeks over the summer. She was able to communicate and travel with three other PSE members (Katie Rogers, Ally Milder, and Michael Fish) once they all landed in Athens.
“I noticed they prioritize spending time with friends and family, and that they separate their identity from their job more than we do here." Kyle Spaete, Senior
Greece’s timing was something that intrigued Christensen as, as mentioned before, the Greeks like to take their time with things. “When we were out at restaurants, you always had to ask the waiter for the receipt because they would let you sit there for however long you felt like sitting and chatting with the other person you were at dinner with,” she explains. “While in American culture, waiters come up to you in five minutes after you start eating and ask you how the food was, and then comes up to you later to ask if you would like the check…this concept was not used in Greece,”
Overall, Christensen had a great experience, and made her “view the importance of understanding other cultures.”
VP of Professional Development, Senior Hunter Neilsen enjoyed his summer studying abroad in Florence, Italy as well because of the people he got to meet and overall learning about the history and culture. He was surprised to find that the whole city is walkable and all of the buildings have been untouched for years.
“The building I lived in was over 300 years older than America, which is crazy to me,” Nielsen says. “My favorite part of the experience was getting to learn about Italian culture. They are so passionate about their food and the different customs they practice. I would recommend this program to others to try”
Stephany also recommends that all students, and especially business students consider jumping on the opportunity, “No matter what kind of business major you are, you have to know about the real world around you, not just what you learn in a textbook. This trip opened my eyes to global cultures and helped me gain skills to become a life-long learner, which is something extremely important to keep advancing in your career.”
We hope to see more students within the chapter jump into this amazing opportunity!