#StudyAbroadBecause you will find out who you are

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Linda Moore lives in Philadelphia and writes fiction. Six months a year she travels the world. She writes about her experiences in a blog: www.lovearttravel.com


What motivated your decision to go abroad? How/why did you choose where to go? 

A senior in the apartment next to mine at the University of California had just returned from the University of Madrid and raved about the University of California’s Education Abroad Program (UCEAP). I never knew students could do something like that and receive college credit. 

I applied to Madrid and to a new UCEAP program in Lund, Sweden. I was accepted to both and had to choose. My grandparents immigrated to America from Sweden and my grandfather encouraged me to go to Madrid, because “Sweden and our family will always be there for you to visit.” I went to Madrid and have since met the family in Sweden. 

While I regret not learning more Swedish, my Spanish skills are strong. In his 80’s, my grandfather moved to Texas and asked me to teach him Spanish. I love the way he never stopped learning.

Linda Moore: #StudyAbroadBecause you will find out who you are

Myself (I'm in front with long hair) and the Navarra family in 1968


What was your experience like? What is your favorite memory? What were some challenges you observed?

I divide my life into the unconscious and the conscious years. That year in Madrid was the dividing line. I became aware of the world beyond my narrow concerns. The fascist dictator Francisco Franco ruled Spain while I was in Madrid. There were student protests on a weekly basis and the university was closed for over four months in one stretch. UCEAP gave us the option to return home.  As a political science major, I decided to stay to learn about and experience the fascist politics. 

A strong memory is the day the Spanish police came to campus on horseback, swinging batons, wounding students. They entered the Facultad de Ciencias Politicas while I was in class. We heard a clamor of students running and then gunshots.  An official ordered us to leave the building and forced us to exit into the mêlée. Fortunately two Spanish classmates took me out a back exit to their car. We drove through the chaos and saw many students bleeding and police beating students hanging from the windows and doors of the buses that would take them off campus. It was shocking.


What skills did you develop from your experience? Do you feel changed from your experience abroad? 

On a macro basis, I learned different styles of governance matter to every day lives. People’s rights to select and hold their government accountable is the first step to freedom.

I learned to survive on very little money, budget carefully, be open to new things (eating calamari and pulpo), and learn from everyone I met. 

I attended a 50th anniversary celebration of UC’s program in Madrid and met up with some classmates from my year. It was as though we had been through a war together. Madrid changed each of us between July when we left NYC (on a ship!) and when we said good-bye that next June. We are all passionate travelers still searching out new experiences. We also hold a healthy skepticism of unchecked government power.

A footnote: I had dinner with the family I lived with in Madrid. Sadly the parents are no longer alive, but I met their grandchildren and enjoyed knowing four generations of this family. This visit gave meaning to the cliché “lifelong friendships.”


Has your experience helped you get to where you are today?

Yes. I continued my studies in Latin American politics, receiving a Master’s Degree from Stanford. Because of my language skills and background, I found a position with San Diego Children’s Hospital as a liaison to a Project Concern Hospital in Tijuana. I went on from that position to earn a graduate degree in health care administration and become a hospital administrator. 

After my children were born, I owned and directed a gallery specializing in art from the Southern cone of South America. The gallery was invited to exhibit at many international art fairs including ARCO in Madrid, FIART in Bogotá, and FIAC in Buenos Aires. 

I am a writer now and have written a novel set in Bogotá. 

Recently, I attended a meeting with Board of Project Concern International in Washington, D.C. They have expanded to 17 countries where they manage many educational and health care projects, including caring for ebola patients in Liberia.  I plan to continue traveling and staying engaged in international projects.

My heart and work is never far from the Hispanic world.

Linda Moore - #StudyAbroadBecause you will find out who you are.

Myself in 2014 with the Political Science Building of Universidad Compultense de Madrid in the background


What advice (on finances, the experience, etc) would you share with other students who are thinking of going abroad?

Plan for your finances and seek out scholarship opportunities beyond your own university. Try to work as much as you can and save before you leave because it is hard, if not impossible to work while abroad. Some students can earn extra money by teaching English. Look to share living arrangements with host country students or families. It will be a richer experience and it can be cheaper.

It may be advantageous to apply directly to the foreign institution, because many foreign universities are free or quite cheap. Before enrolling, be careful to research the way your home university and the foreign university handle the transfer of credits. Earning credit toward a degree should be a priority unless the international experience is extracurricular. 


How has international education impacted or influenced your cultural identity?

I am a global citizen. I realized during the year I was abroad that I could not defend the US’s action in Vietnam just as Spanish students would not support Franco’s repressive policies.  People are not their governments. It’s important not to confuse the two and be open to the diversity of opinions that exist even in the most repressive environments.


Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

If you have the chance to study in another country, seize it. It may be messy and complicated, but it will be a highpoint of your life.

#StudyAbroadBecause... you will find out who you are




All photos courtesy and copyright Linda Moore