A-Z Index

News Release

June 6, 2024

Knowledge gained, memories made by studying abroad

By Lilly Proctor, communication assistant

Students from Northwest Missouri State University furthered their education by gaining new perspectives and going abroad during the spring semester to the countries of Spain, Italy, United Arab Emirates and Mexico.

Mae Killeen spent the spring semester studying in Monterrey, Mexico. (Submitted photo)

Mae Killeen spent the spring semester studying in Monterrey, Mexico. (Submitted photo)

Caitlyn Lapka is pictured at Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain.

Caitlyn Lapka is pictured at Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, Spain.

“Being forced to learn an entirely new culture and way of life was the most eye-opening for me,” Mae Killeen, a senior communication major from Omaha, Nebraska, said. “When studying abroad, you literally throw everything you know out the window and relearn everything, whether that be language, customs or simply how you perform daily tasks.”

Killeen spent her spring semester at the Universidad de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. She took courses in Spanish language and Mexican culture. She also was enrolled in a drawing class and a business class focused on socially responsible and ethical business.

Caitlyn Lapka, a senior Spanish major from Inwood, Iowa, studied in Salamanca, Spain, but her experience was more spontaneous.

“I very impulsively decided to study abroad for a full semester because I wanted to learn more about myself, how to be alone and independent,” she said. “I always knew I wanted to study abroad because I spoke Spanish and wanted to fully immerse myself in the culture. Immersing myself in the Spanish culture was the only way to truly understand and learn the language and culture. I was also very excited to meet new people and make connections with lifelong friends.”

Lapka attended the Universidad de Salamanca. She chose to go to the school after a friend and classmate spent a couple months there last summer, and her Spanish instructor recommended it. Spanish was spoken almost constantly, helping her to practice the language.

While in Spain, Lapka took part in the International Business and International Studies program through Experience API Connect, a data-driven, experiential education platform developed to help colleges, universities and students create and find learning experiences customized to meet their needs. She studied Spanish cinema, Spain history, international business and Spanish culture.

“I learned a lot about the different types of jobs and internships that are available to people with similar career and study goals as me-the importance of note-taking,” Lapka said. “I took a different approach to how I took notes, and it completely changed my studying experience. I can now take notes and actually understand what I am learning. I will definitely be carrying this skill into my last semester of college and my career.”

Both students have memories from their time abroad that will stay with them.

“My roommates and I quickly became very close and have been able to travel to the beach and to different cities, giving us the opportunity to take in different aspects and cultures of Mexico,” Killeen said.

Lapka added, “I met so many amazing and beautiful people who changed my perspective on life. I went on a two-week solo travel trip around Europe during my spring break. I went to Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Cologne, Germany during this time completely alone. Not only did I learn so much about different cultures, languages, people and history, but I learned so much about myself.”

For more information about study abroad experiences offered at Northwest, visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215