Why should I let my child go abroad?

By: Allison Noffsinger, Study Abroad Coordinator at Mississippi State University

(former API student in the API Seville, Spain: Language, Business, and Applied/Social Sciences at Pablo de Olavide University)

“Why should I trust strangers with my child?” asked the concerned parent as she quizzed me over every study abroad program offered by Mississippi State University. I quickly contemplated the many ways that I could and should have answered the question. On one hand, I wanted to explain that her son was twenty years old and technically wasn’t a child anymore. On the other hand, I knew that my student’s mother had never been out of the country herself. Therefore, I was pleased that she was even considering the idea of sending her son abroad.

Understandably, the unknown worried her. The best answer that I could give this parent was that my mother was also worried when I decided to study in Spain in 2006. I told this parent that all of our programs follow and often exceed applicable security and study abroad safety practices. Moreover, as an API alumna, I could personally vouch for API and was able to explain the excellent care that was provided for our group in Sevilla.

Our group’s resident directors, Pilar Cobo and Juan Calvo, went above and beyond their call of duty to assist students with every problem, big or small. If the rest of the API resident directors are half as competent and compassionate as the API Sevilla (Pablo de Olavide) staff, then, yes ma’am, you can definitely trust the care of your child to “strangers.”

As I reminisced about my time abroad with API, I thought back on all of the wonderful learning experiences I shared with my fellow students and on-site resident directors. A brief recap of these are featured in the photo essay below – enjoy!

On this windy API excursion to Portugal, API resident director Juan Calvo keeps us from blowing into the Atlantic! Our group stopped to take in the sights on our way to Lisbon.


When studying abroad in Europe, you not only have the opportunity to meet new friends from the country in which you are studying, you will come in contact with other international students too. Many of my best friends were Erasmus students from Poland and Italy. Students from across Europe choose to study in Andalucía, Spain due to its warmer weather and lively atmosphere. Here, I am hanging out with several friends on the bank of the Guadalquivir, River—a popular location for students and locals living in Sevilla.

Another shot of the Guadalquivir, River that runs through Sevilla, Spain.

This is part of our group on the API trip to the beach city of Cadiz. Our group was made up of students from every region of the United States! Because of my time in Spain, I not only made many life-long Spanish and European friends, I also maintain close friendships with other API alumni from the east coast, west coast, and several places in between!

Oh, Pilar. It is not an exaggeration to say that in the four months that I lived in Spain, I never once heard any of the students complain about API resident direct Pilar Cobo. Cool, calm, and collected, Pilar was always there to save the day! Pilar is one of those people that you can’t help but love. A couple years later, I was lucky enough to meet up with Pilar while we were both traveling in Arequipa, Peru. Small world!

This beautiful shot of the Cadiz beach was taken on the same excursion.

Not only did Juan (second from right), our API resident director, do his job well when he was on duty—he even came out to play soccer with us on his day off! Juan is an awesome outdoorsman that helped me find a soccer team, take kayak classes, and go spelunking!

A view of the scenic downtown of Sevilla, Spain.

Even if you don’t know much about life in Sevilla, you have probably heard of the Feria de Sevilla. Every April, Sevilla holds a magnificent fair. A temporary tent city emerges with brightly colored casetas (tents), which are owned by well-known families from the area, as well as political parties and local businesses. The party goes round the clock, with the traditional dances and dress.

Not only do the locals get dolled up at the Feria, the horses do too!

The sevillana is a style of song and dance that is closely tied to Sevilla’s past. A lot of the international students (like me) were able to borrow dresses to take part in the fun. Here, we pretend to know how to dance sevillanas! (For an accurate demonstration, go to YouTube…or Sevilla in April!)

Allison Noffsinger is a the study abroad coordinator at Mississippi State University and a former API student in Seville, Spain.

If you are a student at MSU, be sure to attend the Study Abroad Fair on September 24, 2010!

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  1. Jeramy Johnson says

    Thanks Allison! Your pictures are great, and you are right about Pilar and Juan 🙂

    I hope the study abroad fair this week is a huge success for MSU!

  2. Spanish dancing looks fun! I’ll have to try that next time I am in Sevillea =)


  3. Great post, Thanks!

  4. All this talk about life long friends made in Spain and not one pic of your best friend?? Fatima Cus Cus!!!!!!!!!

  5. Hi!!! I think all parents would go through a very difficult time sending their kids abroad to study, to work or what ever reason. But I believe they are for the best and they know what is best for their kids. My parents also went through that when I decided to study in the US and such luck because they support me all the way.

    • Jeramy Johnson says

      Very true, and understandably so, which is why we try to make them feel as involved and informed as possible 🙂

  6. Sandra Maselli says

    My daughter is going to seville in the spring 2011. What is the advantages of saying with a family verses staying in a dorm per say.

    • Jeramy Johnson says

      Hi Sandra!

      Both are great options, though a large number of students opt for host families for several reasons… for one, host families provide a wonderful immersion setting to learn and use one’s language skills. Two, they cook and clean for the students, and provide a natural support system – a home away from home if you will. Finally, many students have the misconception that they will not have freedom of movement, but this is not the case at all. Students receive a key to come and go as they please (though they are asked to be respectful of the family’s schedules).

      Dorms/residencias are also a nice option, particularly if the student only wants to be around people his/her own age. Residencias are basically private dorms (there is not the tradition of on-campus living in Spain), and are often a mix between a small dorm and apartment-style living. There may be other Americans, Spaniards, and other international students living there, and most provide some meal plans as well.

      I hope that helps! If you have any further questions, I encourage you to follow up with Sarah Webb, the API Seville program manager at 1-800-844-4124.



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