This archived article was written by: Emily Williams
USU Eastern is has many diverse students on campus. People from all over the world travel to USU-CEU to gain their education. The large majority of enrollment on this campus is from Utah, even within a 200 mile radius of Price. This makes cultural diversity even more appreciated when we come across it. As the new semester started, the student body became a bit more exotic.
Paula Fonseca Esparza traveled roughly 5,450 miles from her home in Santander, Spain to study at USU Eastern. This is not Esparza’s first adventure. She is an accomplished world traveler. Her travels have led her to Paris, England, Greece, Cuba, Germany, Africa and her favorite adventure, a two-day ride across the Sahara Desert on camel back. However, this is the first time she has been to America.
After hearing about the glamor of New York and seeing so many great cities of the world, Esparza was not expecting to arrive in such a small town. She says everything is so spread out and it is strange to her because in Spain everything is cramped together.
She says she doesn’t regret attending a small college because her main goal in coming to the U.S. is to learn English. She realizes that in a larger town she would find more people who speak Spanish, in Price she is forced to communicate in English, and although it is a challenge, she knows it builds her knowledge of the language.
Esparza learned English in school for many years, but her teachers focused on grammar and sentence structure, never emphasizing speaking the language. Attending college courses helped her familiarize with the language. Each time she goes to class she understands more. Even though she is improving, she says it is harder than she though it would be and has a bit of trouble speaking fluently.
For a recent high school graduate, coming to another country alone with limited knowledge of the language takes a lot of guts, especially when she has never been away from her family for more than a month. Esparza is the youngest, with two older brothers who are studying at universities in Europe.
At her home in Spain, she has two horses that she loves riding, and two dogs that she loves taking on walks down the beach. Esparza misses her family and her friends, but she has had experiences with some very friendly people here, and is always happy to meet someone who speaks Spanish. The people in Utah, she says, are less outgoing than the people in Spain.
She does find it curious that so many of youth here are religious, because where she grew up, religion was “only for older people.” During the four-short months she will be in the U.S., she wants to try some new things in America. Since she has been here, she discovered her new favorite food: waffles. On the top of her to do list is to go skiing in Utah, a past time she also enjoyed in Spain.
Esparza is a sweet girl who wears a constant smile, even when she isn’t quite sure what you are saying. She is incredibly smart, both of her parents are medical doctors, so backed by genetic brilliance, she plans to go to veterinarian school when she returns to Spain. She is always up for trying new things and having a real American experience. She says that she is a shy person by nature, but is always ready to meet new friends and is optimistic about making the most of her semester in the U.S.
Next time you are about to complain about living in Small Town, Utah, just remember that we are lucky to have some people like Paula Esparza on our campus, to help us learn about the world and perhaps become a bit more cultured as we get to know them.