Hello, my name is Sahara Vinneccy and I am now a Senior. My graduation year will be the Spring of 2024. I studied abroad at the Madrid Center, I major in Biology and minor in Psychology. What led me to study abroad in Madrid, was that I had always had an interest in going abroad in general and lots of my friends who went abroad would always boast to me about how they loved Madrid and how the life is over there.

Also, I grew up speaking English and Spanish in my household so I thought it’d be more of a plus to go to a place where I felt more comfortable to communicate with others and strengthen my Spanish. Furthermore, As I said, I am a Biology major and I minor in Psychology so going to Madrid also worked in my favor when it came down to the classes I’d be taking and if they’d count toward my major or not.

I participated in the Marine Ecology Seminar, where we got to visit many different cities of Spain such as Cabo de Palos, Valencia, Murcia, and many more. During our seminar, we were able to scuba dive in the Mediterranean and obtain our Scuba Diving License. This seminar actually counted towards my major as an upper-division biology course.

I also took a drug discovery course which was very interesting because you learned the history of pharmaceutical drugs and recreational drugs as well, along with their uses and how some of them are even being used in today’s medical world. Another interesting class was my psychology class, drugs, and human behavior, another closer look into the way human behavior is altered by drugs and we go over criminal cases and get to go on really exciting field trips!

Overall my experience was phenomenal, I had met so many people abroad and many locals as well that I’ve stayed in touch with. There are many opportunities to be involved with your other peers, for example, the Syracuse Madrid Center offers a program called the Mad Passport program where, weekly, you’ll receive emails of events the school is paying for and providing for the students. The activities can range from cooking with local chefs to making traditional paella, day trips to different cities such as Segovia, Visiting local fish markets, etc.

While I was abroad I did a work study with the student life department. I was in charge of making a presentation with my fellow peer who worked with me and it was a presentation for the host families. The presentation went well and we had to present it in Spanish which I had never done before so it was definitely something out of my comfort zone and I am thankful for the opportunity that was given to me to be able to work abroad. I would say that I definitely left my mark in the offices at the center because I would always pass by and say good morning. One thing I felt from the overall office was the comfort they gave not only me but all the students. They always made an effort to make you feel welcomed no matter what.

Furthermore, other travel I did while I was abroad was being able to visit London, Copenhagen, Majorca, Berlin, Barcelona, and lastly Morocco. My favorite trips by far had to be Morocco and Berlin. While I was in Morocco, I was off the coast of Agadir and so my friends and I spent most of our days surfing we were fortunate enough to go to the Sahara Desert which is what I was named after and had been a dream of mine to visit. We even went sandboarding! So many fun memories were made on that trip! Then I really loved Berlin because I am a big fan of techno music and Berlin is the heart of techno music and culture. So my friends and I really were able to get the full experience I’d say.

My living experience with my host mom was phenomenal! I was fortunate enough to be able to live with my best friend as well. She and I both made sure when doing the applications that we put our names down under the “preferred roommate” for housing selections. Our host mom was the best lady ever! She’d make us the best traditional food and she was very nice and funny! I really liked that we had our own rooms because it gave me my own personal space and my host mother never invaded that and respected both my roommates and my downtime.

To conclude, study abroad has greatly impacted my college experience in the best way possible. I have been able to expand my horizons and open myself up to many different people and learn how to be adaptable which I think is very important for the real world. I have also been able to strengthen my Spanish skills and learned to be more independent as well. When you leave your host country, I felt like a part of me stayed there and that I brought a piece of Spain with me back home.

Words aren’t enough to explain how studying abroad has forever left a mark in my heart in the best way possible. Ironically, I always encouraged others to study abroad before I even did and now that I have, I am really glad that I was encouraging others to do so. You make endless memories and make so many friends! You learn more about yourself on a deeper level. I plan to travel more when I graduate. I am planning on trying to do some medical volunteer work in Africa perhaps after I graduate. The opportunities become endless really. Now it’s your turn to take on this spectacular journey and create unforgettable memories!

Sahara Vinneccy ’24

Biology/Psychology (School of Arts & Sciences)

Syracuse Madrid Center