Roland-Story grad studying in Mexico

Ronna Lawless, Staff Writer
Ben Clark in Mexico, studying abroad as part of a Central College program. Contributed photo

Ben Clark of Story City is currently studying abroad in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. A student at Central College in Pella, Clark is one of 50 students who are studying in foreign countries during the fall semester.

Central supports off-campus programs around the world, and each academic major allows space for students to study abroad while earning credit toward a major, minor or core curriculum requirements.

“I have only been here for a little over three weeks, but I have seen so many things and learned so much already,” Clark said in an email interview from Mexico. “The whole study abroad experience is a little over three months.”

Clark has been to the Mayan ruins in Tulum, and Mayapan. “Central college has a few more trips for us students to visit a few more ruins,” he said. “These ruins are so big and jaw dropping. It’s hard to believe they were made a few thousands of years ago.”

Besides the ruins, Clark has gone to Tulum, Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Playa del Carmen.

“These places are a lot different than Iowa,” Clark said. “The ocean is a turquoise color in many of these beautiful beaches. They’re just views you don’t get in Iowa so I really appreciate all of the beautiful scenery.”

In Mérida, the students live in the “Central Mansion/House.” There are 13 other students and the majority are from Central, Clark said. ‘

“I have been sleeping in a hammock ever since we have arrived here,” he said. “They have beds for us but I love my hammock!”

Classes are all in their house, and professors come to the house to teach.

“All of my classes are in Spanish besides one. I am taking 18 credits while I am here,” Clark said.

For the last half of the semester, Clark will be doing a home stay with a family in Mérida, which he expects to be a great experience.

Some of Clark’s credits are with an internship. He’s interning with SolyLuna.

“It is a business that helps extremely special needs children and their families,” he said. “They offer the family and kids support and many tools to succeed. … I could go on and on about it, but I work mainly behind the scenes with technology and updating their facebook page and editing their website.”

At Central, Clark is double majoring in Spanish and communication studies so he feels like this is the perfect internship for him.

“I get to communicate in Spanish,” he said. “As a Spanish major I am required to study abroad to Spain or Mexico. When I am here, I would love to sharpen my Spanish to the best as I can. I would love to be able to speak two languages by the time I graduate from Central in 2018.”

Although Clark only attended Roland-Story for his senior year of high school, he said it was a great experience. He played basketball, baseball, football and track at R-S. He contributed to the team that went to state in baseball in 2014.

Clark is the son of Rob and Machelle Clark, of Story City. He is currently a junior at Central.

“R-S prepared me because I was able to take a college level Spanish class at the high school,” Clark said. “Roland-Story encouraged being a part of multiple activities which transferred to college with me. Study abroad was another activity that I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to see the world even if I didn’t have much money.”