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Interview with Kayla Buffington

Tell us about yourself
I am currently a Senior at Eau Claire with a Spanish Major and TEFL minor. I went to UW Marshfield/Wood County for my first year of college before transferring to Eau Claire my sophomore year. When I transferred to Eau Claire I joined the Women's Rugby team on campus!  I am also a part of the Transfer Mentor program on campus and I am currently a peer adviser for the Costa Rica program.

When and where did you study abroad?
Spring Semester of 2014, I went to Costa Rica.

How did you prepare for your study abroad experience?
The moment I transferred here I started looking into potential programs that I wanted to do since it was a requirement for Spanish majors to go abroad. I had a friend who convinced me that I should go to Costa Rica after she told me about all of the animals, parks, food, beaches and more! I started looking into the courses that I would be taking down there, so that way I did not take them at Eau Claire. The Study Abroad website had the financial information for each program so that helped me out a lot and gave me an idea of how much I should start saving. Also, with the help of the CIE and my Costa Rica Peer Adviser, I was able to have all of my questions answered that I helped me feel prepared in the best way possible. I also looked into some of the places that I could potentially visit while I was down there and this helped me get a feel of what I should expect to see while I was there as well.

What were your fears before going abroad?
I was scared that I wouldn't get along with my host family and scared that I would not be able to communicate in Spanish properly even after all the years of Spanish I had taken. I was also nervous about being away from home for a semester and getting homesick. Even though I knew as a Spanish major that I had to go abroad, I was nervous that this experience was going to set me even further behind in my studies and that I should have only gone abroad for the summer. Especially as a transfer student it can seem a little more difficult to fit things into your schedule.

How did your study abroad experience go?
I LOVED my experience. I did so many things I never thought I would do and went to so many places that I never would have considered going to beforehand. I was able to get so familiar with such a small country and see the variety that it held within it. I would be on the Caribbean Cost having the Jamaica feel and then I would go back home to central Costa Rica and have a completely different vibe! Also, the people are wonderful! I had a great host mom who always made some of the best food! I am EXTREMELY happy that I did not let the fact that I was a transfer student hold me back from going abroad.

How did you benefit from studying abroad?
I benefited in so many ways! I was able to get a new found appreciation of a culture I never even considered experiencing and I am so happy I did! Also, my Spanish fluency improved so much because of this immersion experience. Also I made some great new friends (in Costa Rica and in the U.S.) that I know I will be in contact with for the rest of my life after the experiences we had together.

Did you have any advice for other transfer students who are thinking of studying abroad?
As a transfer student, do not be scared that this can set you behind or that you do not have time for it! With proper planning, many of these programs can keep you on track for when you want to graduate. The great thing about this University is that they offer such a variety of programs to meet a wide variety of students needs, and this is one of the reasons why I choose Eau Claire. You have the opportunity to go over Winterim, Summer, Semester or a Year! If there is even a small part of you that wants to study abroad, look into it and contact someone in the CIE and they will help you look at programs that could be the best fit for you.