Senior Breck Brammer has visited 16 different countries, 10 of which she traveled to during her semester abroad in Madrid, Spain, last spring.
Brammer is a geography and anthropology double major and history minor, and says she has a passion for studying culture.
She left the country for the first time at 14 through a program at Van Buren High School. She fundraised for the trip through bake sales and lawn care in her hometown of Van Buren.
She and other high schoolers traveled to France, Italy and Greece for three weeks. In Italy, she stayed with a family for four days and grew close to them. The grandfather of the family had never met an American before Brammer, and had a negative opinion of Americans.
The family told Brammer her impression on the grandfather completely changed the way he viewed Americans.
She said after her visit to Europe, she knew she wanted to live there.
Brammer said she chose UCA mainly because of its study abroad options. She said she was afraid to travel to a country where English was not the primary language, but knew a Spanish-speaking country would help her become more bilingual.
“I felt bad and I felt stupid for not knowing and I was like, ‘Okay, I need to learn Spanish,’” Brammer said. “But most of the time the easiest thing was to speak English.”
During her five months abroad, she befriended students from every country she visited and continues to correspond with them.
She visited Germany, Switzerland, England and India to name a few countries, and even returned to see the family she had stayed with in Italy.
Brammer said she found her own apartment near the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos campus. She paid her own rent, and learned to cook for herself.
Brammer took 15 credit hours in Madrid, and said the classwork only consisted of a group project and a final test.
“It was awesome because I never had any homework, but it sucked because you had to do really good on whatever you did,” Brammer said.
Brammer said her trip inspired her to raise her future kids to be bilingual.
“I want them to learn, and I want them to grow up knowing other cultures,” Brammer said.
She said she will be more content with her life by learning about other cultures.
“My culture isn’t always the best,” Brammer said.
She said she wants to use her anthropology degree and cultural knowledge to move overseas and and compose cultural ethnographies.
“It’s more about being a learner and a traveler than being a tourist,” Brammer said. “Being a traveler is so much more perspective changing than being a tourist. I cannot stress how important that is to me.”
After living in Madrid for five months, she realized how rude the tourists were and how they didn’t see the importance of travel.
“It’s crazy to see how my worldview changed, and I just want other people to develop an understanding of different cultures,” Brammer said. “It’s so cool how diverse and unique every culture is, but it’s also coherent.”