Olivia Eubanks aspires to be a teacher.

Olivia Eubanks

Part of Eubanks’ plan involves returning to her hometown of Leakesville, Mississippi, in southeastern Greene County, and helping her students learn a foreign language and develop an appreciation for a new culture.

The Mississippi University for Women rising senior is putting her plan into action a little early this month on a study abroad opportunity at the Universidad de Alicante in Alicante, Spain.

Not only is Eubanks immersing herself in the Spanish language and culture, she also is experiencing things that will help her realize her dreams.

“It is the experience of a lifetime,” Eubanks said in an email from Alicante, Spain. “The past two weeks of immersion have taught me more than I ever thought I could learn when it comes to customs, etiquette, celebrations, traditional family dynamics and even making forever friends who do not share your native language.”

Eubanks is part of a group of students that accepted an opportunity to travel and study in a foreign country through The W’s Study Abroad Program. Each year, The W offers at least one study abroad program directed by The W faculty and sponsored by the university. In past years, these programs have been held in England, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Mexico, Peru and Belgium. This year, there were opportunities for students to study abroad in Ireland (Honors) and Spain (Language Learning) as well International Exchange Programs at Aichi Shukutoku University in Nagoya, Japan, and at the Universidad de Alicante in Alicante, Spain.

Olivia Eubanks

Erinn Holloway, a Spanish instructor and the coordinator for the Study Abroad Programs at The W, said every student at The W is eligible to participate in the program as long as they meet the 2.5 grade-point average requirement.

“Study abroad can change you in so many ways,” said Holloway, who accompanied the students to Alicante, Spain. “It can help you gain an international perspective of the world. It will help you develop intercultural communication and foreign language skills. It can make you more flexible and tolerant. You will be better able to understand and accept the differences of other cultures. It can improve adaptability and problem-solving skills. All of these are highly desirable in a multicultural world.”

Eubanks, who is majoring in English with a certificate in secondary education, said she fell in love with the Spanish language after meeting Holloway and Dr. Reyna Vergara, another Spanish instructor at The W. Eubanks hopes to put her minor in Spanish to use as a teacher at her alma mater, Greene County High School. She said the trip to Alicante, Spain, which is her first study abroad experience, has provided a new perspective on how she can help students when she is a teacher.

Eubanks said she attends one class for three hours every morning at The University of Alicante. In the afternoons, her class from The W meets with Holloway for her class, which offers history and culture lessons as we travel to different cities in Spain and many areas of historical significance in Alicante. 

“I hope to take every bit of information I learned into my future classroom with me to share the most beautiful parts of Spanish culture with my future students,” Eubanks said. “From this experience, I have learned I never want to stop learning about this culture. I plan to return to Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries to further my language and cultural skills to benefit myself and the students whom I hope will fall in love as easily as I did with Spanish.”

Eubanks said her time in Alicante, Spain, also will help her as a foster sibling who also aspires to be a foster parent. She feels her Spanish skills and cultural appreciation will allow her to offer something special to a Hispanic child if she is afforded the opportunity.

Holloway said students who minor in a foreign language can use the credits they earn during a study abroad opportunity toward their degree requirements. She said Eubanks, who will earn six credits for her work, is making the most of her time in Spain.

Olivia Eubanks

Eubanks said the experience has lived up to all of her expectations and she highly recommends every student at The W take advantage of the chance to study abroad.

“Nothing prepared me for the connections and relationships I would make during the very first week,” Eubanks said. “I have no idea how I will be able to say goodbye to my host mom, her fur baby, my classmates from other countries and my amazing teacher at the university. The relationships I have collected in my short time here are much too valuable to let go of after I leave. I will stay in touch with these special people, and there is no doubt I will make a trip or two in the future to visit again.”

For more information about study abroad opportunities, call Holloway at (662) 241-6833, or email her at echolloway@muw.edu.

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.