by Tori Phillips
Interested in studying abroad? This semester, Pitt-Greensburg is excited to add a new member to its faculty: Study Abroad Coordinator Michelle Apodaca.
Ms. Apodaca, who replaces Bradley Miner following a promotion, was kind enough to introduce herself to Pitt-Greensburg and share the highlights and downfalls of her three trips abroad.
1) How did you hear of the Study Abroad Coordinator position being available?
I learned about the Study Abroad Coordinator position through PittSource, the applicant site.
2) What is your educational background, including study-abroad trips?
I have an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Westmoreland County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Indian University of Pennsylvania. I was in the Spanish Club at Pitt-Greensburg when Dr. Nancy Estrada told me I should study Spanish in Mexico if I really wanted to speak it. I was hesitant at first but she gave me the encouragement and the push I needed to do it. I loved it so much that I studied abroad 2 more times. It was a privilege to have studied abroad 3 times, twice in Mexico (summer programs) and once in Spain (spring semester). I spent two months in Guanajuato, Mexico, the year after that I spent six weeks in Cuernavaca, Mexico and then a semester in Valladolid, Spain. I studied Spanish, history, grammar, literature, and conversation.
3) How long were your programs, and what did you study? Were they all Pitt-affiliated?
The program in Guanajuato was through an exchange school at the University of Guanajuato which was Pitt-affiliated. I’m very excited that programs through this university will be available soon.
4) What skills have you picked up abroad (e.g. languages, hobbies)?
Speaking Spanish and a bit of Salsa dancing. I love to travel and meet new people.
5) How had studying abroad influenced your relationships with those interested in going abroad?
Studying abroad had influenced my relationships with those interested in going abroad in a great way because I have my personal experiences that allow me to relate to the students and I understand their doubts and concerns since I was once in their shoes. I can honestly say that these were some of the best experiences of my life. I feel it is a privilege and an incredible learning opportunity that can help students grow academically, personally, and professionally.
6) What advice would you give to someone who wanted to be a study-abroad coordinator?
The advice I would give to someone who wanted to be a Study Abroad Coordinator is to study abroad as much as you can and let your passion for it be your driving force.
7) What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I have a twin sister.
Information on Her Trips:
Guanajuato Best: Tacos al pastor (roasted pork)
Guanajuato Worst: Anything spicy – I had to build up my tolerance to it poco a poco (little by little).
Cuernavaca Best: Thin steak with seasoning and lime juice sprinkled on top and cheese quesadillas with salt and lime juice were also a simple favorite.
Cuernavaca Worst: A soup called Menudo. I just couldn’t get over that it was made with tripe which is the lining from the stomach, usually a cow.
Valladolid Best: Hands down, Maria’s seafood paella. I still crave it to this day!
Valladolid Worst: Sometimes a chorizo dish (Spanish Sausage) would be too greasy but it was tasty!
Guanajuato Best: Hanging out with local friends at el jardin de la union, talking, and listening to live Mariachi music.
Guanajuato Worst: Having to leave (reverse culture shock even before I left).
Cuernavaca Best: Seeing the pyramids in Teotihuacan.
Cuernavaca Worst: Having my camera and credit card stolen by a supposed friend of a friend, but I got it back!
Valladolid Best: Seeing the Alcazar of Seville – a Moorish royal palace.
Valladolid Worst: After seeing the Guggenheim museum, friends decided we didn’t need to book a hotel that we could we stayed up all night. We stayed on the beach in the freezing cold. It was a long night!
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite music: All types
Favorite Country: Mexico
Favorite Movie: “The Illusionist”
Favorite Book: “Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada [Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair],” by Pablo Neruda
Favorite color: Blue