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Study Abroad Student Report: Katie Hilner

During the 2024 winter-mini term, I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Alicante, Spain. Through an affiliate program, I took a 3-credit Spanish Culture and Civilization course. During our scheduled days, we visited various cities to experience the different climates and cultures in different regions of Spain. Our guided tours included visits to museums and cathedrals, city walks, and information about the history of Spain. During my discussion-based course, we studied Spanish history, politics, social norms, and festivals while practicing our Spanish skills. As a Spanish minor, I was grateful for the opportunity to practice my language ability in a small environment, which raised my confidence in communicating while in the town. The best way to study Spanish culture was in a location where I could walk outside and tangibly experience what was covered during our classroom lessons.

We also had the opportunity to explore the city, travel to other places, and experience festivals. Our trip was during Las Navidades, which is their season of Christmas that begins December 24th and continues through January 6th. Specifically, we were there for New Years and Los Reyes Magos. During these celebrations, there were many parades and traditions that were exciting to observe and experience first-hand.

Overall, this was a very challenging yet rewarding experience. Since I chose an affiliate program, there were no students from the University of Tennessee, and I was nervous about adapting to the culture without knowing anyone else in the program. However, I quickly fell in love with Spain and I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I was also able to quickly bond with some of my companions and enjoyed discovering the culture together. I highly recommend a study abroad program to anyone who is interested and able.

Alicante, Spain
Katie Hilner on New Years Eve
Katie Hilner studies abroad in Alicante, Spain