November 09, 2016
Joelene Joinvil returned from a semester abroad in Spain with new friends, renewed confidence—and a killer paella recipe.
Joinvil, a senior Spanish major from Scranton, Pa., travelled to Spain via the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Gilman scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to diversify the students who study and intern abroad and the countries and regions where they go.
While in Spain, Joinvil attended Centro Norteamericano, an English language school in Seville. There, she took courses in Spanish literature and Spanish-American civilization.
She also immersed herself in Spanish culture and language by living in a Barcelona homestay, a form of study abroad that allows students to rent rooms from local families.
"I stayed with an older woman and her mother, as well as a roommate," Joinvil said. "It was a tight squeeze, but living in the home was great. Merchi, the woman I lived with, took care of us as if we were her own."
With a greater sense of the opportunities available to her, Joinvil plans to apply to the Peace Corps, with hopes of getting involved in some kind of work to improve the lives of women and girls.
"This experience made me more independent and resourceful," Joinvil said. "I'm not afraid to go out and find things because once you've talked to people in a language that you're not fluent in, it makes you much more confident."