Spanish students create culture, share knowledge at Utah Tech

This semester, Utah Tech University welcomed over 50 students from Spain. These students embark on a cultural journey while sharing traditions and creating memories. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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From the historic architecture of Spain to the red rocks of St. George, Spanish students share cultures and learn new ones while blazing a path for themselves at Utah Tech University.

With 15% of all international students being from Spain, they are able to share new experiences and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Shadman Bashir, executive director of international programs, said there are a few reasons the number of students coming from Spain is increasing each year.

One factor is the international program staff make themselves available 24/7. The staff decided to make a WhatsApp account and include their number on the international student website.

“At midnight if someone starts contacting that number, I start talking to them whether it be the parents or family of the students or the students,” Bashir said. “Students are getting the support they need, and we are helping people.”

Bashir said their constant availability shows all international students they care about them. Knowing their concerns will be addressed attracts more international students to Utah Tech.

Ana Montoya, a freshman criminal justice major from Almeria, Spain, said she chose Utah Tech on the recommendation of her Spanish agent.

“Well, I find this university because one person recommends me,” Montoya said. “He told me that this university is one of the best in Utah.”

David Molina, a sophomore computer science major from Madrid, and Alvaro Osuna, a freshman bioinformatics major from Sevilla, Spain, said they found the same college agent through an online search. Once they met with the agent, they were given more information about Utah Tech. He also helped them fill out all of the necessary paperwork and got them the information they needed.

“To go out of Europe, you need help with those papers,” Molina said. “I didn’t know I needed to do the SAT.”

Bashir said visas can be a tricky part of an international student’s process of enrolling and attending American universities.

“Obtaining a visa is usually a lengthy process and can be difficult to obtain,” Bashir said. “If students are coming from more underdeveloped countries, they will most likely have a harder time being accepted.”

“Spanish students have no problem getting visas,” Bashir said. “We had admits from all over the world, and 45% were able to come in. Spain is a very economically stable country and that helps its citizens obtain a visa.”

In Spain, universities are run differently than in the United States. College students do not have the ability to take classes like art, history and gym.

“You can’t choose the classes you want to take,” said Christina Martinez, a sophomore earth, energy and environmental science major from Madrid. “Everyone from your major has to take all of the same classes.”

Students are not allowed to organize their schedule with what their preferences are for time slots.

“In Spain, when you are 18, you have to know what you want to study, and a lot of people don’t know and pick one they aren’t sure about,” Montoya said. “Here you can change your major if you don’t like it. In Spain, you have to do four years or start again for a career.”

The flexibility Utah Tech offers helped seal the deal for these Spanish students

“Public universities [in Spain] are much bigger…and teachers don’t know who you are,” Molina said. “For them, you are just a number…at Utah Tech, I feel like I can get to know my teachers and they can get to know me, and if I have any problem or concern, I can talk with them anytime.”

Even though international students from Spain are enjoying the flexibility and the atmosphere Utah Tech offers, there are still parts of home they miss.

“In Spain, the food is better,” Montoya said. “Here is always hot dog, pizza and hamburgers.”

“She’s trying to say the food here is too processed,” Molina corrected.

“We were told the food was good,” Osuna shrugged.

Students from Spain share food and take turns cooking Spanish dishes for meals. The students can find a little bit of home in one another’s cooking even though they’re thousands of miles away from the country that molded them into who they are today.