International Spotlight: Madeline Mandel in Spain

January 25, 2013

Madeline Mandel in SpainMadeline Mandel spent fall term 2012 in Barcelona, Spain, through the Knox in Barcelona program. A senior from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she previously studied abroad in Scotland, and that trip inspired her to travel to Spain to strengthen her Spanish-language skills. She is pursuing a major in English literature and minors in Spanish and theatre literature and history.

What inspired you to pursue study abroad in general, and why did you decide on this particular study abroad experience?
From the very beginning of college, I knew I wanted to study abroad. I had studied in St. Andrews, Scotland, my junior year and learned that I have a passion for living abroad and learning about other countries and cultures.

I chose this particular program because I wanted to continue studying abroad and I wanted to improve my Spanish-speaking skills. I chose Spain in particular because I knew I enjoyed living in Europe and I wanted to see more of it.

How did you learn about this opportunity?
I learned about Knox in Barcelona from friends who were also a part of the Spanish Department and had studied there previously. (Photo above: Madeline Mandel hikes during an excursion to the Pyrenees Mountains.)

Describe your day-to-day experiences.
Monday through Thursday, we had class in grammar, theatre, literature, and art. We were given long weekends to travel and/or explore Barcelona. When not in class, many of us joined different clubs or participated in language exchanges with students from the university.

Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom and/or out-of-the-classroom experiences at Knox benefited you as you studied abroad and traveled internationally?
All of my Knox Spanish classes prepared me. It was really helpful to have a strong knowledge base of the language before studying in Barcelona.

How do you think this study abroad experience will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?
Studying in Barcelona made me realize how important it is to me to be fluent in Spanish. I plan on going back to Spain for a year or two after graduation to continue working on my Spanish fluency. I plan on teaching English while in Spain in order to gain teaching experience.

Where else have you studied abroad, and what are some of the differences between those experiences?
My junior year, I studied at the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland. I think the biggest difference was that St. Andrews was much more about meeting people and creating lasting friendships. I was there by myself, and completely immersed myself in the university life through Frisbee. I still talk to many of my teammates today.

Barcelona was much more about the sites and traveling. Since I was there with other Knox students, I had a certain level of comfort in knowing people in the city already.Madeline Mandel in Spain

What was the coolest part of studying abroad?
While studying in Barcelona, I joined an Ultimate Frisbee team. It was the perfect way to make friends. Everyone was so welcoming and willing to help me work on my Spanish skills.

Through tournaments, I was given the opportunity to travel and see other parts of Spain. I met people that I will stay in touch with for a long time. (Photo at right: Madeline Mandel, at left bottom row, poses with her Ultimate Frisbee team, Crema Catalana, at a tournament in Santander, Spain.)

What did you learn?
I learned that I can do anything and in any language. Studying in Barcelona threw me into many stressful situations that I had to think and communicate my way out of. It forced me to keep a calm head and rely on myself to accomplish what needed to be done.