Matt Mantikas '13

Why did you decide to study abroad?

The group in Madrid
I had taken Spanish since first grade, so given the opportunity, I knew that I wanted to take my understanding of the language to the next level. Fully immersing myself in a Spanish speaking country was the obvious next step. I had also spoken with a lot of friends who had studied abroad and every one of them reflected that it was the best time of their life.
How did you choose where to go?

I knew that I wanted to go somewhere Spanish speaking so I considered a few options in South America and Spain. Ultimately, I decided that Europe offered more opportunities to travel independently so I chose Spain. As for my individual program, I was the first Colby student to enroll in the CIEE offering in Palma de Mallorca. I didn’t want a huge program in Madrid or Sevilla so I ultimately made the decision to head to Mallorca, a Balearic Island, 90 miles off the coast of Barcelona in the Mediterranean Sea. CIEE has a great reputation for offering fantastic programs in Spain, so even though I wasn’t going to one of their most popular locations, I knew that the program would be top notch.

Can you briefly describe your program while abroad?

My program was extremely small (only 6 students total) but this allowed for a lot of individual tailoring of classes, etc. For example, most of my classes had only one other student, which provided personal student/professor relationships. My program directors did a fantastic job of planning activities and designing each of our individual schedules to cater to what we wanted from our abroad experience. I think that this ability to provide such attention to each student is something that most programs lack, and for this reason, among many others, I am extremely pleased with my experience in Palma. 
 MMantikas IMG_1966
 Sóller Port
What were some highlights or memorable moments of the experience for you?

I will never forget the great friendships made with my professors and host padre, Carlos and the weekend trips around Europe were definitely a once in a lifetime experience, but I will always remember the small moments, like watching the sun rise over the mountains in Sóller, or running on the beach overlooking the yacht filled port and cathedral. I’ll remember sprinting through airports, and countless sleepless nights, but in the end, I’ll remember an experience that I made the most of.
What was your greatest challenge?

My greatest challenge was probably my group (out of six students, I was the only male). It was difficult to leave my friends from Colby and end up in a program with no fellow bros in my group to hang out with, but ultimately, this gave me an extra sense of freedom and incentive to travel around as much as I could.
How have you and/or your perspective changed after returning from study abroad?

The freedom provided by the Palma program allowed for many individual weekend trips. Traveling alone is something that I would recommend to every student studying abroad. I not only learned a lot from the new cultures that I was immersed in, but I also learned about myself and my own culture. It takes an outside prospective to truly understand our American lifestyle and until I had this abroad experience, I was too naïve and immersed in my bubble to truly appreciate the privileges that this lifestyle allows.

What advice would you give to prospective study abroad students?
 MMantikas IMG_1333
The Palma Cathedral

Do it. Go somewhere non-English speaking. Get out of your comfort zone. The four months goes by in the blink of an eye; take every opportunity to do something new and make every moment count.