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An Interview with Fulbright Grant Recipient Sarah Gentile

Portrait of Sarah Gentile

You are graduating next week, congratulations! What will you be graduating with?
I will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish!

When did you first begin learning Spanish?
I started learning Spanish in the second semester of my first year at Boise State. I wanted to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country so badly that I jumped into learning the language, adding a double major in Spanish to my studies. It was a very spontaneous decision at the moment, but I am so grateful to have done it.

What initially interested you in applying for the Fulbright scholarship?
I expressed my love of travel and my dream to join the Peace Corps to my honors advisor, Emily Jones, during my first year at Boise State. She immediately recommended that I try to be a Fulbright scholar. At the time, I did not believe I had what it took to be granted the scholarship, but Emily supported me throughout my studies and encouraged me to go for it again the summer before my senior year. With her help, I was able to gain confidence in myself and my abilities and apply for the scholarship!

What are you most looking forward to while teaching in Spain (Canary Islands)?
I am most excited to go surfing, I have only been surfing twice but have loved the experience! I am also excited to be teaching English to an elementary school. I instructed English at an elementary school in Uruguay as an intern while abroad and loved it, I cannot wait to have the opportunity again. Lastly, as a side project, I am going to get involved with dancing! I want to join a dance team as well as instruct a few of my own dances. I currently teach fitness classes at the Recreation Center, my favorite class being dance party. I would love to build community and make friends while sharing my love of dance!

How has your experience learning a language at Boise State impacted you?
It has changed my life in the best way. I think my future is bright with my psychology degree and I cannot wait to go to graduate school to further my learning to be a counselor, but Spanish gives me the opportunity to travel, see new things, connect with others, and experience new cultures. Studying abroad in Uruguay was the first instance that showed me this. While learning Spanish, I was able to make Montevideo, Uruguay feel like my second home. I hope the Canary Islands will give me that same sense of belonging and make me feel at home as well.

What is your biggest piece of advice for someone starting out in learning a language/considering learning a language?
Definitly study abroad at least a semester or over the summer! I learned the most studying abroad out of my four years of college. I also grew as a person and learned who I was and who I could be. Studying abroad gave me unforgetful memories, many challenges, new best friends, and an amazing host family. You won’t regret it. Also, learning another language is challenging, you won’t be a fluent speaker instantly, (I still am not after three years) but you have to keep trying! No matter the reactions or critisism you receive from your peers, friends, professors, be patient with yourself and keep trying.