Today’s blog post comes to us from UW-Plateville student & API blogger Josh Weaver! He’s studying abroad with us in Seville, Spain this semester. Today he’s talking about his progress in learning Spanish abroad!
10 weeks completed… Once again I can’t believe how fast the days pass.
Quite a difference from the second week when I was homesick, and I thought the days couldn’t pass any slower until May 15th. Now, I don’t know if I will be ready to come back home. Of course I will be excited to see my family, friends, and neighbors again, but there is now a part of me connected to Sevilla. After I passed the homesick phase, I was content exploring, traveling, and living in Sevilla, but not connected to it. Now I have made some wonderful connections with Spaniard students, all thanks to a language exchange program.
To help me with learning Spanish abroad, I signed up for the University of Sevilla’s Tándem program not long after classes began.
Tándem is a language exchange program that partners people so they can speak half the time in their mother language and half the time in the language they are learning. I am learning Spanish, so I have been partnered with a Spaniard learning English (plus German and Italian). I am fortunate that from our first meeting we connected really well and have become good friends which in turn led me to becoming friends with his friends too.
Our casual conversations have not only increased my communication skills immensely, but a wide variety of cultural exploration.
Several times we start off on one topic and end up moving through several others. Everything from how different our universities and education systems, holidays in the United States, holidays like Semana Santa y Fería in Spain, childhood games, life experiences, foods, clothing, and much more.
One of the cultural conversations was about clothing styles in the United States versus Spain which led to a shopping excursion, so I could start looking like a Spaniard (or at least European). The trip was a success as the other day I met a German exchange student and it wasn’t until I said I was from the U.S. that she realized I was an American. This might not sound like much, but we as Americans really stick out in Europe and normally are easily identifiable. Speaking in Spanish with my host mom, taking all classes in Spanish, and Tándem have already greatly improved my fluidity and vocabulary.
To wrap back to where I started, I don’t think I will be ready to leave now because I have made connections with natives here.
It’s no longer just connections I have with other Americans or the beauty of Sevilla, it’s the people I know here I don’t want to leave-just like when I left home to come here. It’s a conflicting feeling, but I think this is one of the goals of a study abroad program. Anyone at any age can travel to another country and experience the surface of the cultural, but not many people have the opportunity to stay for an extended period in another country and really become accustomed to their culture and make connections in the community. Tándem was the missing link that has completed everything I hoped to gain from this study abroad experience.