W&L Abroad

For many students, studying abroad has been a primary goal of their educational experience since they first stepped on campus. The Phi got in touch with two juniors living out that dream.

Wyn Ponder


Rebecca Ponder ’16

Where are you?

Madrid, Spain (the Atocha neighborhood).

What are you studying?

I am studying Spanish and Journalism. One of my classes is directly enrolled at Carlos III, my university here. Since all of my classes are in Spanish, which is not my first language, I probably understand 10 out of every 20 words my professor says. However, that is good because it helps me learn at a faster pace and I have already become much more comfortable in speaking and reading in Spanish.

Why Madrid ?

I am a Spanish major and I knew I would be immersed in the Spanish language if I studied in Madrid. It is easy to travel and see all the cool things that Europe has to offer.

How has your experience been so far?

It has been fabulous. There have definitely been times of serious culture shock: Spaniards do not really eat breakfast; they have a two-hour break in the middle of the day to eat lunch (and yes, often times, siesta) and do not eat dinner until 9, which for some is still considered pretty early. Everything also moves really slowly in Spain. I like to be prompt, but I have professors who regularly show up 15 minutes late to class. It is a more relaxed way of life than life in the United States. To be honest, I am scared that I am going to get used to it and then come back to the United States and be shocked by the fast pace of everything.

I am also living with a host family, which has helped my Spanish so much. I have really enjoyed the Metro, which goes everywhere. In Atlanta, we have a thing called the Marta, which nobody ever takes because you fear for your life if you do take it. However, Spaniards also have a negative concept of personal space and they always stare. When you are going somewhere on the Metro, there might be someone 6 inches from your face, staring straight at you. At first that was really weird to adjust to, but now it does not really phase me.

Krysta Huber

Krysta Huber ’16

Where are you?

I am studying in Shanghai, China, at East China Normal University.

What are you studying?

I am in CIEE’s Business, Language and Culture program. I study Chinese and also take three business courses. I am a business journalism major at W&L [and write for the Phi when I’m on campus], so I am focusing on the business side of my major while abroad. My business courses cover the changing aspects of China’s business practices, whether that be the government’s economic stimulus plan or China’s value-added tax system. I am also taking a marketing class that focuses on domestic and multinational companies in China, as well as a Chinese economic reforms class.

Why China?

I wanted to do something different. I thought that I would be far less likely to travel to Asia than Europe at a young age and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.

How has your experience been so far?

It’s been a truly rewarding experience. I left for China in August with no Mandarin speaking skills, so the culture shock was intense when I first arrived. Many people in China speak English, but the area around my campus has few English speakers. I definitely had my fair share of days where I was frustrated because I could barely give a taxi driver directions or could not order food in a restaurant. But now that my Chinese is improving, it is very exciting to be able to read signs and talk to taxi drivers.

I have traveled to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Wuzhen (a water town about two hours outside of Shanghai), Guanghzhou and Zhuhai (both cities in the a Pearl River Delta). I am also going to Beijing and Cambodia in November.

One of the highlights of my study abroad experience has been visiting Hong Kong’s umbrella movement protest, which was organized by Hong Kong students last month in an attempt to fight for a democratic system in Hong Kong.