plans moving forward

Thanks to the midterms and quizzes that I had on Wednesday, posting on Tuesday was just not an option this week! Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to stick to my plan to post on Tuesdays, but we’ll see how that goes! As long as I write a post each week I’ll be happy with myself!

Today I think I’m going to spend most of my post talking about the study abroad program I’m planning to do in Costa Rica this summer. I mentioned it briefly in my last post but didn’t go into any detail. It’s been consuming a lot of my thoughts and energy lately, so I thought I’d share what’s going on in that little corner of my plans!

One of my classes this semester is called “Introduction to Communication Disorders.” Many of the class sessions are led by guest lecturers who come to talk to us about different aspects of the field of speech and hearing science. For example, this week a representative from the Prentke Romich Company came to talk to us about the augmentative and alternative communication devices that the company produces for people with disorders so severe that they need assistance from a communication device in order to be understood. It’s really a very interesting class due to the variety of subjects that are covered!

Anyway, during the first week or so of class, the instructor for the class spent a lot of time talking about how to get into graduate school for speech-language pathology or audiology. She mentioned that undergraduate research and study abroad experiences look great on applications to graduate school, as well as being great learning opportunities. Those two ideas really caught my attention. Although I’ve been told that my grade point average will probably be enough to get me accepted into grad school, I was really intrigued by these opportunities and how they might boost my chances of being accepted into my programs of choice. I also liked the idea of having a chance to get more experience in the field before getting sucked into the rigors of a graduate program.

So I did some research on both options. I spent a few hours one afternoon scouring the web for speech-related study abroad opportunities in Hispanic countries. I wanted to find an experience that I wouldn’t be able to get here in the United States: immersion into the Spanish language and an opportunity to dive into the field of speech and hearing science. After a lot of searching, I had only come up with a program through the University of Iowa and it didn’t seem to be a very good fit for the experience I was looking for. Before I got too discouraged, I thought to email the organization I had studied abroad with when I went to Spain in the fall of 2011. Although I had gone to Spain to fulfill academic requirements for my Spanish major, I had also participated in their volunteer program, ELAP (Experiential Learning Abroad Program). I asked if they had any volunteer programs that would fit my needs. Thankfully, I got a response back from them pretty quickly. They have a volunteer placement at a special education center in San Jose, Costa Rica!

For the rest of the afternoon I looked at all the details of the program. How long could I spend there? What exactly would I be doing? How much would it cost? It all looked like it matched up perfectly with what I wanted, and although it costs money, it wasn’t enough to take away my interest in the program.

A few days later I met with the Spanish linguistics professor that I had for a language development class in the Spanish department about participating in research with him. Although it sounded interesting to me, I wasn’t sure it could come close to the hands-on experience of getting to work alongside speech pathologists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists while being immersed in the Spanish language. Going to Costa Rica seemed like it was the best option for me, but I still spent some time deliberating over which to choose. I couldn’t do both: I had been told by my Spanish professor that if I were to work on research and write a thesis with him I would have to be working on it all summer.

After a lot of thought and many conversations with advisors, family, and friends, I decided to apply to go to Costa Rica, which I did a couple weeks ago. Yesterday, I had a phone interview with an ELAP employee in Spanish, so that they could verify that my Spanish was good enough for me to be working in the special education center. She said I spoke really well (which is always nice to hear!), so now all I have to do is sit back and wait to be accepted to the placement at the special education center! And do my best to get some scholarship money to pay for it, of course!

So there you have it. Hopefully I’ll be spending July 6th through August 17th in Costa Rica. In this post I really only talked about the logistical aspects of going there this summer, but in reality there is a lot of emotion involved as well. I’ll talk about that a little more in a post in the near future! Until then, cross your fingers and hope that I have the chance to embark on a very interesting experience!

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