Hello, my name is Callie Amill! I’m a rising senior at Syracuse University graduating in May of 2024, studying marketing and political science. I’m from Ridgefield, CT and studied abroad in
Madrid, Spain during the Spring 2023 semester.
My passion for the Spanish language and culture began when I started learning Spanish at ten years old, and I quickly realized that I wanted to incorporate a study abroad in Spain into my academic pursuits. With my heritage stemming from Barcelona and my grandfather’s prideful stories of Spain passed down through the generations, I felt a deep connection to the country.
My experience is unique in that prior to my study abroad experience, I had never left the United States. I didn’t know what to expect, but was excited for the challenges and eye opening experiences I knew were to come. I enrolled in the Spring 2023 program and signed up for the Marine Ecology Signature Seminar. I have always had a passion for aquatic life and environmental sustainability, and had the goal to get my scuba diving license, a great benefit offered within this program.
Throughout this special seminar I made new friends, learned about the impacts of climate change on immigration and migration specific to Northern Africa and the Mediterranean, and was able to swim among the fish at 40 m below sea level. This unique opportunity opened a new door for me in a newfound passion for deep sea diving, which I can only explain as truly serene and thoroughly impactful. You come to understand your role as a human being in navigating a perspective as but a small dot among the unexplored ocean, and yet a real threat to the organisms which inhabit it through overfishing and waste accumulation. I hope to pursue my passions in future dives off of Greece and in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Following the signature seminar, I returned to Syracuse Madrid for the rest of the spring semester. I lived in a co-ed apartment homestay with my best friend and two host parents. Coming into this program, I had conversational abilities with Spanish but had not practiced in nearly a year. Through translating between my roommate (who spoke only English and Korean) and host parents (who spoke Spanish), I was able to greatly increase my fluency and come home practically fluent! This was a goal of mine and one I am proud to have achieved after spending four months in Madrid.
One part of my homestay experience that I had not expected was the deep cultural difference between living in the United States and abroad. This included hanging laundry to dry outside, a sharp 8 pm sit-down dinner, short showers to accommodate for the water crisis, and no ice in drinks. While new and exciting, I did come home thankful for my iced coffees and dryer, but that’s all a part of getting the whole experience and realizing the privileges of the western world.
Over the course of the semester, my friends and I were able to visit so many countries and cities. Some of my favorite memories are of skiing in the Swiss Alps, coming face to face with the Pope in the Vatican City, experiencing St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, and enjoying the pebble beach of Nice. Study abroad has impacted my future in helping me to realize my love for travel and expanding my global experiences. In the future, I plan to live in another country and to invest in my passion for scuba diving as well as my love for languages.
My biggest piece of advice is to be open to new people and to book your trips ahead of time to save money! Consider what you are looking to spend, if you prefer to be active or more relaxed, and to what degree you prioritize certain activities. Put yourself first and realize that you don’t need to be friends with everyone or go on trips with all of the same people. Give yourself the room to have experiences that could be uncomfortable and help you to grow, step out of your bubble!
Callie Amill ’24
Marketing & Political Science