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Study Abroad Student Testimonials

Basque Language Students’ Testimonials:

Students study abroad in the Basque Country

“Studying Basque at Boise State instilled in me a more profound appreciation of language and culture. The university’s Basque courses are challenging and engaging. And Boise, a cultural hub in the Basque diaspora, provides spaces wherein students can meet other euskaldun. Through Boise State, I was given the incredible opportunity to study in the Basque Country at an immersive Basque-language boarding school. In addition to studying the language, I learned to play a traditional instrument called the txalaparta, tasted the local cuisine, explored the countryside, and became close friends with other students who are passionate about learning language. I am deeply grateful to have been given so many opportunities to interact with the beautiful Basque language and culture, both in Boise and in the Basque Country.”
— Dafydd Vaid 

Students study abroad in the Basque Country 2

“As a student at Boise State pursuing a minor in Basque Studies getting the opportunity to go to the Basque Country was like a dream come true! I was finally able to make connections to things I had learned in the classroom with how they worked in the Basque Country. At Maizpide I was able to learn from some of the most caring instructors I’ve had, they were always willing to adapt their plan based on what the students in the class needed from them, they even bought us cheese when we spoke of how much we loved the cheese! I count myself among the lucky to have had this opportunity that I will cherish the rest of my life!”
—Renee Rohman 

“My father was Basque and he was born and raised in a small town called Markina in the Northern part of Spain. My father passed away several years ago, and when I went back to school, I chose to honor him by studying the Basque language.  I had taken all of the Basque language classes that were available to me at Boise State, and I wanted to continue to learn.  I was told that I might be able to study abroad and would be eligible for scholarships if I declared a Basque Studies Minor.  For me, this was a no brainer.  I needed 9 additional credits to complete the minor, and 8 of them would come from studying abroad.  I jumped at the opportunity and immediately declared my minor. I had to take a one credit weekend class, and then I was on my way to Spain to finish my college education.  I spent 5 weeks in the midst of summer in the Basque country of Spain.   The town I studied in was Zornotza which was near Markina.  These two towns are separated by only 31 kilometers.  Due to the close proximity of these towns, I was able to visit aunts, uncles, and cousins that I had not seen in nearly 2 decades.  While this was a huge benefit for me, I had many other fantastic experiences.  Each evening and weekend we were given an opportunity to experience the culture of the Basque people.  We learned some of the customary dances and played some of the instruments that are unique to the Basque culture.  We also visited some museums and went on hikes in the Basque countryside to visit caves and other landmarks.  In the midst of all of this, we did our best to converse in the Basque language.  The school that I attended had sleeping quarters for the students and all of our meals were included.  I met people from all over the world that attended the school, and I am still in touch with many of them and am happy to call them my friends.  The instructors at the school were very good and, fortunately, patient with us as we struggled to gain an understanding of the Basque language.  The instructors went with us on many of our adventures, and we enjoyed spending time with them outside of the classroom.  This was such a fantastic experience for me, and I can’t wait to take my family to Spain and enjoy the Basque culture with my children.

Studying Euskara in the Maizpide barnetegi located in Lazkao is a very fond memory for me. It gave me a chance to really experience the Basque culture outside of the States and to become friends with individuals I normally would never have met in my life. Studying at Maizpide allowed me to fully envelope myself in the language and forced me to become a better and more confident Basque speaker. Furthermore, all of the students and teachers were extremely friendly and helpful. The school also tried to bond the students together by organizing field trips. On three separate occasions we visited an old baserri, climbed a mountain, and were televised on EITB. We all ate together, danced together, sang together, drove together, spoke together, and towards the end became a very close knit of friends. Additionally, the weekends offered me a chance to travel around the Basque Country and visit all the cities and cites I wanted to visit. I made a lot of friends, really good memories, and got to study Basque. I would recommend the trip to anyone.”
— John Cortabitarte 

“I had a wonderful time at the barnetegi in Lazkao. In my month studying there, I got to use all of the knowledge that I had gained at Boise State, and I realized how much I had learned in my two years studying Euskera in the classroom with Nere. Being immersed in the culture was a completely different learning experience, I not only spoke Basque, I lived it all day. From breakfast to bedtime, we were constantly speaking Euskera. The community-style meals were an excellent opportunity to speak casually with other students and we got to enjoy the local cuisine. Even when we stepped outside of the walls of the barnetegi we were surrounded by Basque; at the grocery store, the bar, even the signs on the street. 
Because of the connections that I had in the Boise Basque community with the a friend from the Oinkari dancers (who had also attended Maizpide) I was able to attend dance practices with Aurtzaka, a dance group from Beasain. That was a totally different aspect of my learning that happened beyond the classroom–I got to hear the group speak Euskera to one another, I got to practice conversation with them, and I made some new friends! 
We also had the opportunity to explore some of the surrounding terrain–one night in particular stands out to me. The other students from Boise and I walked to Lazkao Mendi and beyond through the gorgeous countryside, and we got caught in a pouring-down rain storm on our way back. We were able to find a small restaurant on the side of the road, and they welcomed us in, brought us towels (we were soaking wet), and poured us some Sagardoa while we waited for a table. The dinner was delicious and was followed up by a special performance by a bertsolari (singing poet) who happened to be in the restaurant that night. He sang to us personally about how we had come from America and we were learning Euskera–it was beautiful! I would recommend studying abroad to any student who is trying to learn a new language–there is NO replacement for being submerged in a culture–and having to rely on the foundations of what you already know. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to visit Maizpide–for me it was a dream that came true!
I am very happy that I decided to pursue a minor in Basque Studies at Boise State. It was a unique opportunity for me to be able to get credit for studying my own heritage. My grandmother was a fluent Basque speaker, her parents were from Bizkaia, and she continued speaking Euskera for her entire life. She is in heaven now, but I know that if she were alive she would be proud of my decision to learn to speak Basque. I am excited as well to pass the knowledge I have on to my own children one day–and I can say that without the Basque Studies program at Boise State I wouldn’t be able to do that.”
— Megan Vondemkamp 

Spanish Language Testimonials

“An unforgettable experience of a lifetime. Once you come back, you want to turn around and do it again.”

“Studying abroad is definitely one of the best things that I did during my college career. From learning a new language to immersing myself in a different culture, the experiences I had abroad helped me to broaden my worldview and to learn more about myself. Studying abroad was invaluable to my personal and academic development, especially since it inspired me to add a Spanish major, and it has also opened many new doors for me at the university and beyond.”

“I had the amazing opportunity to study in Puerto Rico for the entire 2012-2013 academic year through the National Student Exchange, and it was the best decision I have ever made. I attended the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras in San Juan, the capital of the island. Besides the wonderful advantage of being located in the Caribbean, the University is only a short train/bus ride from Viejo San Juan, the oldest part of the city, and one of the oldest cities in the Americas. I made friends the first day I arrived and was instantly welcomed into the dorms by locals who were willing to slow down their Spanish and help me learn and accustom myself to the local way of life. All of my teachers took a direct interest in me, and if I ever had questions, even in English, they were willing to help me after class to be certain that I understood the material and was able to express that understanding in Spanish. In my time outside of class during the year, I traveled to every corner of the island. I spent days on the beach on the small islands of Culebra and Vieques and swam in water filled with bioluminescent algae. I visited a large number of the historic colonial towns that cover the island. I hiked through El Yunque, the large rainforest that covers the eastern part of the island, and swam under waterfalls. I went to an open air concert on the lawn of an art museum, watched artists create murals for an entire week on random buildings throughout Santurce, participated in Student Assemblies to bring the concerns of students to the attention of the university administration, was serenaded by parranda groups playing Christmas music on tambourines, bongos, and güiros, and spent entire nights celebrating festivities in the streets of Old San Juan. I came back home completely fluent in Spanish, more knowledgeable in my area of study by receiving a new perspective on Latin American politics and identity, and with new friends that have quickly become some of my best friends. My year in Puerto Rico was easily the best year of my life!”
— Daniel Keough, student of Political Science and Spanish