I thought it would be neat to post the personal statement I was required to submit with my application. I actually had to submit a personal statement twice because I had first applied (and almost completed) an application to the Sevilla program.

After changing my study plans, I revised and resubmitted it for Granada. It portrays my desired outcomes for the experience, why I am engaging in this opportunity, and gives a little insight about travel and the sharing of culture means to me. Please enjoy! (Although, It is a little long[:)

A good majority of my dreams growing up have always been centered on traveling the world. I'm fascinated by people, culture, language, and the traditions that keep these things spanning worldwide. I honestly believe that I was meant to be outside of the United States. I come from a multi-cultural family and ancestry. Four different languages can be heard in my household at any given time and I just wish that I could say that I fully comprehend every conversation being had.

One of my favorite hobbies is photography. In my travels across the globe that I planned for myself and my future as a young child, I desired to capture all of the beautiful places, faces, and dreams that I came across. In my undergraduate studies I knew that studying abroad for an extended period of time was going to be a mandatory experience. This correlated very closely with my academic career plans when I declared an International Studies major (in addition to a later declared Spanish major). As a Division-I collegiate student-athlete I knew that my time to engage in this kind of activity would be extremely limited; I would have to put one of my biggest dream on hold until I completed another personal dream of a D-I athletic career was, until the very last semester of my undergraduate academic experience. The past 3 1/2 years as a student-athlete at a private university have constantly challenged me to go above and beyond in everything that I do in order to achieve success as well as stay driven by determination and dreams. After 3 1/2 years of life every day in an area of the world that I have become so accustomed to I am ready to accept a new challenge in the world of the unfamiliar!

Spanish culture in particular is one that I have a strong desire to know better. In my final year at Bradley University my biggest goal in addition to completion of my double major is becoming fluent in Spanish. I currently am enrolled in three upper level Spanish courses back to back that I attend three days out of the school week. I have had exposure to the language for many years now in Spanish courses since elementary school. I long to have personal exposure in a culture where I am able to fully absorb the language.

After the acquisition of a second language I know I will be ready to face any other challenge that may come my way. After I have mastered the Spanish language I will then commit to conquering the French/Creole languages.

I have traveled abroad two different times to Europe in the past. The first was a 9-day "Eurotour" planned with my competitive club volleyball team in 2008. On this tour we visited Prague in the Czech Republic, Maribor in Slovenia, Vienna in Austria, and Munich in Germany. In addition to submersing ourselves with the unfamiliar land we also had the chance to partake in numerous conversations with European natives in team excursions and competitions against professional-level female volleyball teams.

In summer of this year (2011) I enrolled in a U.S. Foreign Policy class in Madrid, España, for a 16-day program offered by my university in the heart of Madrid, Puerta del Sol. With a few of my friends I was able to gain some firsthand knowledge of what living en un pueblo español is really like. This short summer trip had me anxiously awaiting another adventure overseas and back to Spain. I am overly excited to finally be submitting my application to commit to completely delving into my #1 vision, even if this time I must go in at it alone.

My objectives are to learn as much about Spanish culture as I possibly can. Every day I want to become more comfortable in conversing with the natives and expressing myself in the language. I speak English at home with my family but I would like to be able to speak Spanish effortlessly with my mother at home upon my return.

I aim to share the knowledge that I acquire with the world around me upon completion of this program. I will do that with the words and with the images I plan to capture while I am there. From prior experience in the country, I know that the images and the story of my experience can only attempt to graze the surface of the vast amount of beauty that lies in that region of the world. I hope that after living there for a few months I can produce something that equates to even a "satisfactory" representation of that.

My extended-stay in España in the Spring will serve as the foundation for many studies and travels abroad (as well as return trips!) in the future that will lead eventually to habitation outside of the United States, como yo siempre he deseado en mis sueños.

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