Kelly Koehnen

Recipient Profile


Language: Spanish

Location of Study: Madrid, Spain

Program of Study: Nebrija University

Sponsors: Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures and the College of Arts and Letters

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A brief personal bio:

I am Kelly Koehnen, a sophomore Spanish and American Studies Major and varsity cross country and track athlete from a fourth generation beekeeping family in Northern California. My favorite things to do are watercolor painting, making new oatmeal recipes, experiencing new changes (like living in Madrid!), and stopping to appreciate “the small things” that are easy to overlook. Outside of athletics and academics, I have participated in the Summer Service Learning program as a full time maternity home volunteer for eight weeks in North Dakota and studied abroad through the Ireland Inside Track program.

Why this summer language abroad opportunity is important to me:

Coming from an immigrant community, Spanish has always had a huge impact on my life. Whether I am talking with my best friend’s family, beekeeping coworkers, residents of South Bend’s Center for the Homeless, or pediatric patients in the Fighting Irish Fight For Life program, learning Spanish has graced me with countless opportunities to develop relationships that I never would have been able to otherwise. Living in full Spanish immersion through the SLA program will give me the tools I need to make a change and help restore dignity to those without a voice as I follow my passion toward a career in international development in the Spanish speaking world.

What I hope to achieve as a result of this summer study abroad experience:

Through fulfilling my SLA in Madrid, I hope to polish my conversational skills and become a more fluid speaker as I begin to transition to living completely through Spanish during my immersion. I also hope to grow enough in my language skills to be able to build friendships with local students strictly through the Spanish language, and learn about European culture and lifestyle in the process. Ultimately, I hope that I will grow comfortable enough with the language to be confident enough to pursue my career goal of working bilingually in foreign aid. I am also looking forward to becoming apart of my host family and embracing the responsibilities and rewards of Spanish family life.

My specific learning goals for language and intercultural learning this summer:

1. At the end of the summer, I will be able to feel comfortable being apart of a foreign culture and ensure that I incorporate these parts of Spanish life into my daily routine in the United States.

2. At the end of the summer, I will be able to converse with a fluidity that reflects the improvement I would achieve through two semesters of coursework at Notre Dame.

3. At the end of the summer, I will learn to operate in an urban environment, integrating myself into Madrid’s culture by utilizing public transportation, befriending Spanish students at my university, and learning about local heroes through my program’s city history tours.

4. At the end of the summer, I will be able to continue my Spanish studies with more passion at Notre Dame once I experience the value of utilizing my language skills abroad.