Alicia, Student Blogger: Choosing my Program


Cuenca, Ecuador via

While I am majoring in Special Education, I am minoring in Spanish at Eastern Illinois University.  This minor requires the preceding 2000-level classes, plus 12 credit hours of upper-division (3000-4000) classes.  I came in with 4 years of high school Spanish, then took the last 2000-level class, FLS2292 in the fall. The 9 means that it was honors, so I felt prepared for my first 3000-level class in the Spring.  I took FLS3050, Spanish Conversation this past spring, for 4 credit hours.  This left me with 8 to go, and after some number-crunching, I realized that I would not be able to graduate in 4 years with my major and my minor unless I took at least 8 credit hours outside of the normal fall and spring terms.

Background information to the background information: I am at EIU on two scholarships.  One is the Special Education Teacher Tuition waiver from the State of Illinois, the other is a Presidential Scholarship from the Pine Honors College at EIU.  The two scholarships combine to equal a “full-ride” but both are only good for four years, hence the desire to graduate in four years.  The other piece of this puzzle is that Presidential Scholars at EIU are required to complete a “University Experience.”  This is basically an experience outside of EIU (a neat job, an internship, or, commonly, a study abroad trip) that is going to make you a better student/person.  Lastly, Special Education is a mostly American concept, and education classes taken abroad for this major do not transfer.  So it was either gen eds, or Spanish classes, and by the end of this Spring semester, I’d just about finished my gen eds.  Besides, most gen eds must be taken as Honors in order to meet the 25 credit hours requirement, as most advanced classes are not offered as honors, and Special Ed does not offer departmental honors (go figure).

Back to why this blog exists… When I started looking into ways to graduate in 4 years, a study abroad trip met all of my needs.
I didn’t want to take more Spanish classes at a university. CHECK.
I needed at least 8 credits.  CHECK.
I wanted to complete my University Experience early in my college career.  CHECK.
I wanted to get out of Illinois (I love my home, but we all need a break sometimes).  CHECK

So, after several meetings with the Office of Study Abroad and my wonderful advisor, Evan (MAJOR SHOUTOUT), we decided that the Yanapuma School of Spanish in Quito (or Cuenca), Ecuador, made the most sense to finish my minor. So we worked out all the details that I’m not going to type, and I got set to go.  I registered with Yanapuma, did allllll of the required stuff for EIU (health verification, copies of documents, orientation, and the like), started buying the things I’d need (including plane tickets, yikes!!), and applied for scholarships.  As most people know, Illinois is in a state of financial crisis, and that crisis directly impacts my lovely home, EIU.  Regardless, I went ahead and applied for scholarships from the Department of Foreign Language, Office of Study Abroad, and the Pine Honors College.  After confusion, and more budget crisis nonsense, I was blessed enough to receive ALL THREE.  These three scholarships cover almost my entire trip, and I cannot say enough about my wonderful university and the opportunities that they give their students.  Not only did they help me arrange the whole thing, but many students, professors, and staff advised me throughout the entire process, AND the university is practically paying for my trip while asking for almost NOTHING in return.  #fortunate #foreverEIU  So here we are!

I’m staying in Quito, Ecuador, with a fantastic host family.  I’m here for 8 weeks, taking 3 hours of classes every weekday morning, and I’ll get 8 foreign language credits as a result.  There will (hopefully) be posts about my host family, and all of the things I had to do for the University Experience.  For now, I’m going to sit on my balcony, eat my lunch from the panadería, listen to my host family dote on their lovely dog, and look at this beautiful city in the mountains.



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