Memories in Focus: stories about why we are how we are

Studies abroad nurture a love of the Spanish language and marine life


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Morgan Freeburg, left, is all smiles during her adventure to the Galapagos Islands.

UW-Eau Claire is active in encouraging students to participate in high-impact experiences, of which studying abroad is one of the many ways Eau Claire students can participate.

There are many options for students to choose from, spanning six continents and various areas of study. While many Eau Claire students take the opportunity to study abroad, fifth-year senior Morgan Freeburg is among the few who choose to go twice.

Freeburg will spend her 2016 fall semester in Valladolid, Spain. There, she will experience full immersion in the Spanish language by residing with a host family and taking Spanish-speaking classes on grammar and history.

Her decision to study abroad again was bolstered by her other ventures at home and abroad, as well as her passion for the Spanish language and marine biology, Freeburg said. Opportunities to travel to Australia, Argentina, Ecuador, and the Galapagos Islands, left a profound impression on Freeburg and served as an inspiration to enhance her experiences in both her fields of study — biology and Spanish.

“It’s been part of my whole life,” Freeburg said of her passion for marine life. “I would go to Florida with my parents and that’s where my love developed (for marine animals).”

During her three weeks in Argentina, she collaborated with scientists from CONICET, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council of Argentina, while studying various stream organisms, Freeburg said.

Again, Freeburg interned at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Ecuador during the summer of 2015. For three months, Freeburg was able to study scorpion fish in the Galapagos Islands and initiate a management plan to stem their decreasing numbers.

Between her experiences in Argentina and the Galapagos Islands, Freeburg found a strong commitment to preserving marine life and the beautiful ecosystems of the oceans.

In addition, Freeburg’s ventures abroad strengthened her love of the Spanish language. In fact, it inspired Freeburg to upgrade her Spanish minor to her major, doubling with biology.

Meeting people from countries such as Ecuador, Belgium, Germany and Mexico made her want to take a chance and venture abroad once more, Freeburg said.

“It was really amazing to connect with people from different places in the world,” Freeburg said. “It opened my eyes to wanting to explore the world even more.”