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Rebecca Clausen, biology and Spanish major from Sturgis, stands in front of a lighthouse where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic meet each other in Morocco, Africa.
 
Rebecca and some classmates took
a two-day hiking trip up to the
Las Alpujarras in Spain.

 
Rebecca and Nolan Schneider, recent BHSU graduate, return to The St. Nicolas Bell Tower where Nolan proposed a day earlier
Black Hills State University student Rebecca Clausen knew her summer study abroad trip to Spain would be a life-changing experience; she just didn’t realize how life-changing. Clausen, a biology and Spanish major from Sturgis, applied for the University study abroad program as a way to expand her skills and immerse herself in the Spanish culture.

“I have brought back with me an indescribable passion for the culture, the way of life, the food, and the language. It was an amazing feeling to experience another culture and lifestyle,” Clausen said. “You will make a lifetime of memories and will meet so many new and wonderful people.”

Clausen also came back to the U.S. with something else, a fiancé. While Clausen was studying at the CEGRÍ International Centre of Higher Learning in Granada, Spain, her boyfriend, Nolan Schneider, a recent BHSU graduate, was working as an au pair in Seville, about three hours away from CEGRÍ.

“Nolan and I saw each other every other weekend. We went to Valencia, Madrid, Seville, Paris, and Granada,” Clausen said. “While we were in Granada, we went to Subida Al Campanario De San Nicolas, (The Bell Tower of St. Nicolas) at sunset and climbed to the very top. Nolan proposed to me there and the next 45 minutes we cried and laughed together; it was so fun and romantic.”

Clausen said her trip to Spain helped to improve her written, comprehensive and conversational skills. “I feel more prepared for my Spanish classes, and it has solidified a love of the Spanish language, culture and food for me,” she said. “Spain steals your heart, and you will always have this immense desire to return.”

While Rebecca was in Granada, she lived with a host mother who was 87-years-old.

“My host mother was a very proud Spanish woman. She was very proud of her culture and her Spanish heritage,” Clausen said.

After her time studying at CEGRÍ, Clausen decided to look for au pair jobs in Spain for the last month of her summer break. She found a job working as a nanny and teaching English to the children.

“It was so much fun being an au pair. I would play different English games with the children like ‘patty cake’ and would speak to them only in English so that they could learn it better,” Clausen said. “I would also take them to the store and tell them the names of things in English, and then have the children repeat those words to me as a learning technique.”

BHSU offers a variety of foreign academic experience options. The study abroad program provides opportunities to experience another culture while receiving a globalized education. The program is offered to all students that are either sophomores, juniors or seniors  and who have a minimum GPA of 2.5.

Clausen encourages all students to take advantage of the opportunity to study in another country. “Anyone who has the opportunity to do the study abroad program at Black Hills State University should! It is truly life changing,” Clausen said.