Breanna Manning-Romero is a junior studying elementary education. She was born in Mexico and grew up in Buffalo, New York. Manning-Romero was able to apply her scholarships and grants to a study abroad experience that took her to Granada, Spain. There, she spent her sophomore year in education courses like children’s literature, education for special needs and diversity and inclusion with other aspiring teachers from throughout the world. Learn more about her experience below.
I chose Spain because I wanted a Spanish-speaking country since I speak Spanish and this program specifically allowed me to stay abroad for a year.
What expectations or preconceived notions did you have about your chosen country? How did your experience compare to those perceptions?
I had always heard that Spanish people are very loud and expressive. I thought that it was just a stereotype that probably would be disproven once I arrived. However, the culture in Granada turned out to be exactly what I had heard all about. I fell in love with the way people would always be singing through the streets as they walked to work, school or ran errands. I would be woken up by workers singing while they cleaned the streets or teachers singing with their students as they walked to school. I will forever miss the liveliness of the neighborhood I lived in and the sense of community I experienced.
What local traditions or customs did you experience?
Granada is located in the south of Spain and is very close to Morocco. Because of this, Granada has an extremely prominent Arabic influence. You can simply take a one-hour bus to the coast, and from there take a ferry to Morocco! I went to many Moroccan tea houses and tried so much Moroccan food. I saw two flamenco shows in the caves of Sacromonte and enjoyed many nights out for tapas with friends.
My goals have always been to finish college, find a teaching job and travel. However, after studying abroad I came to realize that there is not just one way to live my life—my degree allows me to work many different kinds of jobs, not just teaching. Now my personal, academic and career goals all interconnect. I plan to get my degree and, in the meantime, find opportunities to volunteer and maybe study abroad again! After that, my goals are to teach English abroad, learn a new language, try new things and immerse myself completely in the cultures of the places I visit.
Has this experience changed any of your personal beliefs or values?
Definitely! Studying abroad was extremely transformative, and I had never experienced more self-growth than I did in Spain. I arrived only knowing people in my age group, on a college campus, and typically all from the U.S. or having grown up in the U.S. However, while in Spain I immersed myself in a culture that is so incredibly open-minded, where people from all around the world, of all ages interact with each other. It was a normal occurrence to meet people on a night out and include them in your plans for the night and suddenly have new friends! My experience abroad changed the way I approach the world, with an eye for curiosity and learning about the places I visit and the people I meet. I no longer see people my age as friends and those that are older as mentors or teachers, but anyone from any walk of life. I have now left Spain with friends who are much older than me, and from places like France, Italy, the UK, Germany, Morocco, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil!