Texas Tech University

Student Spotlight: Ryleigh Carson

Clinton Colgin Study Abroad Scholarship Recipient

Study abroad programs provide an opportunity for students to have the life-changing experience of being immersed in another culture. Ryleigh Carson, the recipient of the Clinton Colgin Study Abroad Scholarship, participated in the spring semester program at the Texas Tech University Center in Sevilla, Spain. Ryleigh's time abroad helped her view the world from a different perspective and create lifelong friendships. She is an agricultural economics major from Turkey, Texas.

Tell us about yourself and why you decided to study abroad in Spain.

Ryleigh Carson 2

"I came to Texas Tech University as an eighteen-year-old girl, fresh out of a tiny school in Turkey, Texas, ready to understand more of the world. I took classes in subjects I had never heard of, made friends with people unlike those I had known my entire life, and experienced things I never had the opportunity to experience before. The more I learned, the greater my desire grew to broaden my understanding of the world. Eventually, this burning curiosity edged out the fear I had of leaving the world I knew. Although I was afraid to study abroad and jump into another culture, I wanted to gain a new understanding of people who lived differently than me. This required boldness, so I chose to test my fears and go for it. It proved to be the best decision I have ever made."

What were some of your experiences studying abroad?

"There are countless learning moments and traveling experiences that shaped my time in Spain, but my favorite part of the program was being immersed into a Spanish home. My host mother taught me traditional Spanish recipes and cultural traditions, took me to museums and places around Seville, and helped me to enjoy and understand the culture much better. It was incredible to come to know this woman and her friends so well. I learned about their habits and norms, typical phrases they used, and the generational differences in the Spanish culture. My host mom's love and kindness made most of the challenges I faced in Seville easier, and made the biggest challenge a little harder: being sent home."

Ryleigh Carson with host mom

"The Coronavirus taking over Europe made for an incredibly interesting and scary last couple of weeks in Spain. As we watched the cases in Europe climb and spread across the continent, things started becoming unsteady. As students, we knew the length of our time in Spain was not our choice. Once the pandemic started spreading, we were aware that although we could not leave whenever we wanted, we also could not stay if we were told to leave. This predicament caused a lot of stress for most of the students. We wanted to plan trips as if we were getting to stay, but also had no clue if we would be sent home. Students from other programs were being pulled out of Europe, but we never knew which day would be our last day with our host moms, at the school, or in Seville."

"Because I signed up to get out of my comfort zone and learn new ways of the world, this felt like an added experience to contribute to that. I had to choose not to be bitter about the two months I didn't get to spend in Spain, but to be thankful for the time I did spend in Spain. I was able to learn a new language even though I knew no Spanish when I arrived. I had the incredible opportunity to travel to England, Germany, and multiple amazing cities in Spain. Not only did I become familiar with Spanish culture in Seville, I also got to experience the cultures of different areas of Spain and in two other countries. My time in Spain made me feel incredibly grateful for the life that I live, and I frequently stood in amazement, dumbstruck that this was my life."

How did the Clinton Colgin Scholarship help you achieve your goal to study abroad?

"I know some are not lucky enough to have an opportunity to study abroad, and this made me even more thankful for the people who helped me. This is an experience that absolutely would not have been possible without scholarships such as the Clinton Colgin Study Abroad Scholarship. I could not be more grateful for the means that made it possible for me to learn and grow in Spain."

What advice would you give to other students who are considering studying abroad?

"My advice to students who want to study abroad is to take a leap of faith and go all in, even if you are afraid. There are some things you can never read enough about to fully understand. You need to leave your comfort zone because experiencing these cultures and places is so much better in person."

The Clinton Colgin Study Abroad Scholarship honors the memory of Clinton Colgin, who was a business major at Texas Tech University. The scholarship was designed to help support undergraduates as they seek knowledge and experience in their academic fields by studying abroad. The goal of the scholarship is to provide the opportunity for a student to have the experience of studying abroad as did Mr. Colgin.