Charlena Frank study abroad

Student 'lost' herself in Spain in order to find herself

Charlena Frank, with the support of Abington's Global Programs unit, spent a semester discovering the world and herself.

By: Regina Broscius

Charlena Frank seems to have done it all at Penn State Abington. Among her many accomplishments outside the classroom, she was selected to travel to South Dakota for Alternative Spring Break, and she served as president of the Student Government Association. But there was one more experience she wanted before graduation: to study abroad.

Thanks in part to a scholarship funded by the Penn State Bookstore, operated by Barnes & Noble, the senior was able to finance her dream of studying in Spain. She also received a grant from the University's Student Engagement Network. The $2,000 in grants supported her living expenses while she took courses in Barcelona during the fall 2018 semester. 

Abington study abroad

Charlena Frank

Penn State Abington senior Charlena Frank at Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey in Spain.

While in Barcelona, Frank enrolled in courses with a global foundation including international marketing, business ethics, and leading across cultures.

“The courses were tough and demanded a lot of reading, but I also learned a lot absorbing the culture and practicing the language. I lived in a homestay, and my host mom only spoke Spanish,” the corporate communication major said.

“I learned a lot of self-love being there and being able to leave Abington. Nothing was familiar. It was new and foreign, and I was able to sit back and learn. I purposely ‘lost’ myself in Spain so I could find myself," said Frank.

"Study abroad is a really great way to connect with people and network."

— Charlena Frank, senior, Penn State Abington

As international experiences become increasingly significant in today’s job market, study abroad can be considered an investment in one’s future.

“I think study abroad is a really great way to connect with people and network. You take time to immerse yourself as a person and become more open minded. As you do more, see more, and travel more, it opens you up to possibilities,” Frank said. “It’s refreshing that there is life outside what you see as familiar.” 

Now that she's back at Abington, people are noting the "new" Charlena.

“Charlena left for Spain ready and open for anything that came her way. She returned matured and noticeably self-assured," Michele Scott, campus nurse, said.

Charlena wrote about her experience in Spain here.

Abington study abroad

Charlena Frank

Penn State Abington senior Charlena Frank in Monistrol de Montserrat, Spain.